Tunisian report on gender equality 'revolutionary'

Radical changes include abolishing crime of homosexuality

13 June, 12:25

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, JUNE 13 - The Tunisian President's Committee on Individual Liberties and Gender Equality has published a conclusive report on its website that contains proposals following its 33 work sessions aimed at encouraging social debate.

    The report's proposals include equality between men and women and between natural and legitimate children in inheritance issues, equality in attribution of nationality, the possibility of having a double surname, abolishing the crime of homosexuality, and introducing instigation to suicide as a crime. Ikbel El Gharbi, a religious anthropologist and one of the report's nine signers, said gender equality is "a fundamental condition of democracy".

    The 235-page report is divided in two parts, one focusing on individual rights and liberties, and the other on equality.

    Two draft laws are contained within, one with 93 articles consisting of a "Code of Individual Rights and Liberties", and one on the fight against discrimination against women and children.

    The first proposed law on individual rights and liberties enshrines the right to life and highlights the need to abolish the death penalty.

    It also includes the rights to dignity; physical integrity; safety; freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; privacy; confidential correspondence; freedom of movement; and more.

    Proposed measures include introducing the crime of instigation to suicide, revoking control over artistic and cultural productions, and abolishing the circular on the closure of cafès during the month of Ramadan.

    The second draft law on the fight against discrimination against women and children also includes articles on the family in general.

    The most delicate and complex of the articles is still that of hereditary equality, for which the Commission has formulated three options: guaranteed equality under the law; guaranteed equality under the law with the possibility for relatives to dispute in court; and guaranteed equality under the law subject to agreement by the heirs. Other controversial points include abolishing the dowry as an obligatory condition of marriage; the annulment of the notion of the head of family; the possibility of passing the mother's surname to her children, based on a joint decision by the parents; and reform of child custody in divorce.

    The Commission took into account possible resistance that could emerge from Tunisian society, which is still strongly tied to tradition, and said all the measures can be applied gradually.

    The report is effectively a revolution in the Arab and Islamic world, an absolute first in terms of a wide-ranging reform programme on individual liberties, which will be received with a certain degree of criticism in conservative circles.

    The Tunisian President's Committee on Individual Liberties and Gender Equality was created August 13, 2017 to create a report on individual rights and liberties and equality in Tunisia that would align current legislation with provisions in the 2014 Tunisian Constitution and international conventions, including those on human rights.(ANSAmed).

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