Date: June 23, 2018
“A Tunisian commission has called for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the North African country. Led by the President of Tunisia, the commission called for the removal of the death penalty in Tunisia, equal rights for women, and the decriminalisation of homosexuality. A 230-page proposal, which was published on 20th June, detailed the current lack of equal rights for many groups in the country. Groups that were highlighted in the proposal included women, gay men and the wider LGBT community. Tunisia has a particularly poor human rights record with regards to the LGBT community.
Homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia and punishable by a custodial sentence; even the death penalty. One of the main areas of concerns for gay and bisexual men in Tunisia is the ongoing practice of so-called ‘anal testing.’ Last year, the Human Rights Watch reported that Tunisia’s health authorities had issued warnings to doctors to stop carrying out this practice. The internal warning came after several international organisations, including the United Nations, spoke out about non-consensual anal examinations being carried out on members of the LGBT community. The practice has been used to collect ‘proof’ of somebody’s sexuality, subsequently resulting in men who are suspected of having anal sex with another man being prosecuted. Without any medical evidence to underpin this practice, as well as serious ethical concerns, international human rights organisation All Out began a campaign earlier this year to ban anal testing in Tunisia.
Speaking with Le Point Afrique, Tunisian politician and lawyer, Belhaj Hmida said that the new presidential commission proposal was an opportunity to remove the country’s homophobic Article 230. “We are asking for the banning of anal testing, so that it can no longer used as proof,” she said.
The politician said that there were two options when it came to the future of the current anti-gay law: Either the complete decriminalisation of homosexuality or that those convicted of same-sex sexual activity should face a fine of 500 Tunisian dinar (or around £150). Speaking with French newspaper, Liberation, Belhaj Hmida said she is “convinced” that there would be a new proposed law ready to be voted in by parliament this August. Despite these proposals, societal attitudes in Tunisia still make it an extremely hostile environment for members of the LGBT community.’
It is crazy to think that Tunisia is a relatively well-known location to arrange a meet up with young boys for sex in the 21st Century in the light of the news item above. But then, such countries are full of paradoxes and counter intuitions; in all probability ’twas ever thus. For example, André Gide “experienced his initiation with an Arab boy in the sand dunes of Sousse, Tunisia in the late 19th Century; but that was a fleeting, fumbling, private affair. The boy had initially marched off in despair at Gide’s seeming inability actually to do anything when push, as it were, came to shove.” independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/just-wilde-about-the-boys-1263513.html “
They say that “extremes” tend to coexist in the same areas…Like, all the most mobilized and active atheist groups, exist in “the bible belt”.
In a similar way…the paradoxes are much the same.
You don’t really know what to expect, except that it throws you when you see something generally positive come out of a hostile regime.