Police officers in their civilian clothes broke up a demonstration by Tunisian LGBTI activists on Saturday, 27 January.
The activists protested in the Tunisian capital even after their demonstration was banned by the interior ministry for their ‘own security.’ The reason for the protest was to demand the repeal of regressive laws and to put an end to the criminalization of sexual freedom.
Since Tunisia’s 2011 uprising which led to the Arab Spring, LGBTI activists have made themselves known. Still, despite this, homosexual practices are still punished in the country with up to three years imprisonment.
The 27 January protest was organized by Association of Free Thinkers and supported by the Shams association, which campaigns for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Tunisia.
A dozen protesters was forcibly removed by plain-clothed officers upon announcing their rejection of the ban and displaying a sign calling for a secular state, as well as a rainbow flag.
Police in Tunisia have disrupted a protest around the country’s anti-LGBT laws. Demonstrators said police officers arrived in plain clothing to break up the demonstration and some said they experienced violence as they were removed from the scene.
— Jhawn Paul (@PinkSheepNews) January 28, 2018
Police cleared a small #lgbt demonstration in center of #Tunis and arrested several people. The demo had been prohibited, not clear why, apart from homophobic attitudes of the “liberal” and “democratic” government #tunisia
— Ricard Gonzalez (@RicardGonz) January 27, 2018
On 21 January, the country had its first LGBTI film festival. The four-day event was organized by Mawjoudin, Arabic for ‘We Exist,’ an LGBTI non-profit in the region.
In December 2017, Shams Rad, the first LGBTI web radio station in the Arab world, made its debut despite threats.