Tunisia: first LGBT association recognised, debate

Mufti outcry. Government: goal is protection of minorities

27 May, 11:33

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, MAY 27 - The official recognition of "Shams", the first association protecting the rights of the Lgtb community, set in motion a heated debate in Tunisia.

    The move, received by some as a step ahead in the delicate field of sexual minority-protection, was also met with strong criticism.

    The Republic's Mufti asked authorities to review their decision stating that the recognition of Shams represents "a threat to future generations through the promotion of perverse and abhorrent forms of behaviour".

    The most conservative sectors of Tunisian society were the most disapproving, especially imams, for which the granting of government sanction to Shams constitutes "a dangerous precedent for Tunisia and goes against Islamic teachings".

    Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamic Ennahda party, the third political force in the country, maintained that "it is an illegal measure, one that contravenes the Constitution that, indeed, guarantees freedom, but does not thereby allow such associations to operate".

    The government's secretary general had to intervene to specify that the relevant authorities decided to grant recognition to the association after they were certain that Shams harbours no intention of promoting homosexuality and that its objectives are limited to the protection of minorities from a moral, practical and psychological standpoint, also seeking to prevent the suicides reported among the young.

    According to the Tunisian government secretary, the association is also seeking to curb risks associated with sexually-transmitted diseases, peacefully championing the abolition of discriminatory legislation against minorities and acting to ensure human rights and a dignified life for all citizens, regardless of the fact they belong to a minority.

    (ANSAmed).

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