Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Tunisia LGBTI Resources

(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists) 

Homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia. Section III, sub-section II of the Penal Code of 1913 criminalizes male and female same-sex activity (unofficial translation):

Indecent Assault:

Article 227

  • Punished by death:
  • The crime of rape committed with violence, the use or threat of use of a weapon
  • The crime of rape even without the aforementioned means committed on a person under the age of 10 years old
  • The crime of rape committed under circumstances that fall outside of the preceding cases will be punished by life imprisonment
  • Consent is considered as non-existent as long as the victim is under the age of 13 years old

Article 227 bis

  • He who subjects a female child under the age of 15 years old to a sexual act without the use of violence will be punished to 6 years imprisonment
  • The punishment is 5 years in prison if the age of the victim is over 15 years old but under 20 years old
  • Assault is punishable
  • Marriage of the guilty party with the victim in the two cases anticipated by the present article stops prosecution or the effects of condemnation
  • The prosecution or the effects of the condemnation will be taken up again if, before the expiration of two years from the date of the consummation of the marriage, the last provision becomes void at the time of the divorce pronounced at the request of the husband, conforming to Article 31, 3 of the Code of Personal Statute

Article 228

  • Indecent assault committed on a person without his/her consent is punished by 6 years imprisonment
  • The punishment is extended to 12 years in prison if the victim is under 18 years of age
  • The imprisonment will be for life if the aforementioned indecent assault was committed with the use of a weapon, threat, sequestration or is followed by injury, mutilation, disfiguration or any other act of nature that puts the victim’s life in danger

Article 228 bis

  • Indecent assault committed without violence on the person of a child under 18 years of age is punished by 5 years imprisonment

Article 229

  • The punishment is double the punishment incurred, if the guilty parties of the infractions targeted in Articles 227 bis, 228, 228 bis are relatives of the victim, or if they are in any way in a position of authority of the victim, if they are his/ her teachers, servants, doctors, dentists, or if the assault was committed with the help of several people

Article 230

  • Sodomy, if it does not fall under the cases laid out in the preceding articles, is punished by three years imprisonment

The criminalization of homosexuality is in direct violation of the Tunisian Constitution, which guarantees in Article 6 that ‘all citizens have the same rights and the same duties. They are equal before the law.’

CASE LAW

No published cases have been found. We would be grateful if users are able to refer us to any that you know of which involved LGBTI cases from Tunisia.

PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE'S CAPACITY TO PROTECT

The LGBTI community in Tunisia is subject to stigmatization, societal discrimination and harmful stereotypes, such as the belief that they are the cause of such illness as AIDS. Members of the community must keep their sexual orientation hidden in the hopes of maintaining their privacy and liberty. The homosexual motto in Tunisia is ‘Vivons heureux, vivons caché [We live happy, we live hidden]’ (Violations of the Rights of LGBT Persons in Tunisia). It has been reported that they have been subjected to attacks by police officers based upon their purported sexuality.

There is a belief that acceptance has decreased rather than increased in Tunisia over the years. Despite this, LGBT equality is being talked about as a serious issue, and even if much of the talk remains negative, the very fact that the issue is coming out into the open can be considered to be a step in the right direction. Gayday Magazine, the first online LGBT publication, was launched in March 2011 (LGBT Rights in Tunisia, A Year After the Revolution).  The editor of the magazine, Fadi, has received hateful emails and death threats for his involvement with the publication. Nearly 100,000 Tunisians participated in ‘A Walk for liberties, all liberties’ on 28 January 2012, but there were very few LGBTI persons in attendance. Gay rights are not considered to fall under the list of ‘human rights’ because they are not considered ‘humans’ (Tunisia Rights Minister Pledges to Deny Freedom to Gays).

Transgender people face considerable amounts of discrimination, and encounter difficulties when attempting to legally change their sex.  In 1993, the Court of Appeal of Tunis dismissed a request by a transgender man to legally change his sex from male to female because the sex change operation was considered ‘voluntary’ and ‘artificial’ (Violations of the Rights of LGBT Persons in Tunisia).

The political upheaval in the country following the Revolution in January 2011 has greatly affected the LGBTI community. In October 2011, it was reported that the newly elected Islamist-led government would respect ‘individual freedoms’. The Ennahda party spokesman Riad Chaibi said that ‘atheists and homosexuals are a reality in Tunisia and “have a right to exist”… in the case of homosexuals, there is also a “matter of dignity, because society sees them as undervalued”’ (New Tunisian Government Promises 'Dignity' for Gays). There were no reports of persons arrested for homosexual activity at the time of this research. However, despite this apparent progress for the LGBTI community, the Tunisian rights minister, Samir Dilou, has since pledged to deny freedom to gays as recently as February 4, 2012. He proclaimed in a television interview that gays need ‘medical treatment’ and that homosexuality was a ‘perversion’ (Tunisia Rights Minister Pledges to Deny Freedom to Gays).

 

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)

No NGOs in Tunisia were found that deal specifically with the issues faced by the LGBTI community. 

 

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS

No specialist on LGBTI issues in Tunisia is currently listed here, but we welcome suggestions.

 

 

Researched by: Rhiannon Archer

Email: rhi [dot] archeratgmail [dot] com

 

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