A gay tourist from Italy was brutally murdered in Tunisia, activists say this highlights increasing difficulties LGBT people face in the country
A gay Italian tourist, known only by his first name, Angelo, was found dead, murdered, in his holiday apartment in Hammamet, a coastal resort town in north east of Tunisia.
Reports, which have only been recently corroborated, indicate he was repeatedly stabbed 10 times on the night of 1 August around 2 am.
Tunisian police arrested a suspect for the murder one hour later, a 20-year-old unemployed man, resident of Nabeul city, along with some of the victim’s stolen possessions and money.
Angelo reportedly went out with the murderer to some of the resort’s cafés and spent the night with him at his holiday apartment when the murder took place.
Shokri Kraiem, Hammamet police chief, told Shems FM Tunisian radio station, that a dispute took place between the victim and his killer just before the murder.
Angelo’s friend, Martine Costa, published a Facebook note detailing her account of what happened: ‘At 2am, our friend Angelo cried "help!", his cries… echoed… and heard in… the street but no one intervened, because… a homosexual was involved.
‘The neighbor, who said she heard the cries, remained still,’ and continued eating her shorba soup, Costa alleged.
She also reported that the next day she saw young children laughing about him being murdered because he was gay: ‘At seven years they laugh, what will they do when they reach 20… become murderers?’ she wrote angrily.
She claimed townspeople talked as if Angelo deserved it because he was gay.
Costa’s note was shared 1,250 times at the moment of writing and many of the 213 comments and reactions found on Facebook expressed homophobia and disgust towards gay people in general.
Fadi (name changed to protect his identity), editor of Tunisia’s LGBT GayDay Magazine told Gay Star News: ‘I did not know Angelo, but his loss did really affect me.
‘It even saddens me more not knowing about the murder from the conventional media. I had to know about it through Facebook! It is very shameful the loss of a person due homophobic feelings. My thoughts go for his family and friends.
‘I am thinking also of the 20-year-old lad’s parents and I wish I could know what their feelings are? Are they happy and proud of their son executing god’s wrath on earth and elimination a gay person?
‘Such murder shouldn’t go un-witnessed politically speaking. I hope it emphasizes the danger and obstacles that face LGBT individuals in Tunisia and there need to be a push to criminalize hate crimes and speeches.
‘However, I am not hopeful as it wasn’t too long ago that the Tunisian minister of human rights rejected LGBT rights and therefore the universality of human rights
‘The economic situation is not improving and LGBT people are scapegoated, fueling more and more hate and disgust directed at gays.
‘If any lesson to be learnt from Angelo’s homophobic barbaric and atrocious murder is the vulnerable situation gay people are at in Tunisia.’
Speaking with Gay Star News, Tarek (name changed to protect his identity), Tunisia editor for Gay Middle East and blogger, said: ‘The situation from the perspective of human rights in general and LGBT rights in particular is getting worse in Tunisia.
‘Society hated gays before Ben Ali, but under Ennahda [current political ruling party], homosexuality is used as political weapon even more rigorously than in Ben Ali’s time.’