After international protest, Tunisian court releases LGBT rights activist

Following an international protest, a Tunisia court ordered the release Wednesday of Rania Amdouni, the women’s rights defender and LGBTI activist who had been jailed for shouting at police.


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Rania Amadouni (center) leads protest last month in Tunis. (Photo courtesy of Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters)

On March 4, Amdouni was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine for “insulting police and abuse of morals”.

An appeals court ordered her to be released yesterday.

Amdouni, 26, a member of the human rights group Damj, the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality.

“We are happy that Rania was freed today by the appeal court, but our concerns about freedoms continue, because for months Rania has been subjected to harassment by some Facebook pages of police unions,” her lawyer, Yassin Azzaza, told Reuters.

Her release was welcomed by the activist groups Solidarité Internationale LGBTQI (SIL) and the Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia (CRLDHT).

In a joint statement, they said that Amdouni’s sentence had been reduced to a fine of 200 dinars (61 euros). They gave credit to quick action by supporters demanding Amdouni’s release:

Excerpt from joint statement

In 48 hours, 70 organizations and more than 160 people signed the appeal we sent them.

We are delighted with the release of Rania as well as the international mobilization that her sentence sparked:

  • Signature on the appeal came from some 15 countries: Tunisia, France, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Benin, Mauritania , Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Haiti, Canada.
  • Activists for human rights, international solidarity, immigration and LGBT rights worked together.
  • Diaspara organizations and immigration activists in France mobilized alongside associations for the defense of LGBT rights in a common approach.
  • For the first time, associations in the international francophone network of Solidarité Internationale LGBTQI together made their voices heard to defend one of their own. We hope that this exemplary mobilization in favor of human rights and respect for minorities in the world will develop and strengthen in each of our countries.

In Tunisia, this fight for more respect for freedoms and rights continues. We continue to call for the unconditional and immediate release of young people imprisoned for demonstrating their aspirations for a better world. We call on the Tunisian National Assembly to repeal article 230 of the penal code which dates from the colonial period and penalizes homosexual relations. We reaffirm our solidarity and our support for social movements in Tunisia.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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