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Tunisia gay rights leader attempts suicide after calling on TV for end of gay sex ban

Tunisia gay rights leader attempts suicide after calling on TV for end of gay sex ban

Ahmed Ben Ahmor attempted suicide

A gay rights leader in Tunisia has attempted suicide after calling on TV for an end to the law that criminalizes gay sex.

Ahmed Ben Amor, the vice president of the Shams LGBTI group, swallowed 60 pills as well as ingesting two other types of drugs on Saturday (9 July).

His close friend discovered him unconscious at 10am and rushed him to a private hospital in Tunis.

Ahmed was diagnosed with a stage nine coma, considered moderate to severe.

Late yesterday, after 19 hours, he woke up.

Doctors do not believe there will be permanent brain damage.

‘I’m sorry I let go of everything,’ Ahmed wrote on Facebook from his hospital bed. ‘I couldn’t deal with it, I couldn’t deal with the death threats, the call to lynchings.

‘Death is far better than denial.’

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Ahmed received a wave of death threats after he appeared on a popular talk show, Klam a Naas, calling for an end to the country’s sodomy law.

Many viewers were shocked at seeing the promotion of LGBTI rights on national television and, so, started calling for him to be imprisoned, assaulted or killed.

After Ahmed attempted suicide, Hamad Sinno, the lead singer of Labanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila, helped to start a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #WeLoveYouAhmed.

And other people soon followed.

Shams has said Ahmed’s father and mother, who previously kicked him out of their home after he came out, drove up to visit him from their town of Mahdia. According to one of Ahmed’s good friends, Conor Michael, his parents have ‘now accepted the fact that their son is gay’.

Tunisia’s law punishes gay sex between consenting adults with imprisonment for up to three years. Trans people, and sometimes other members of the LGBTI community, are also often accused and charged with the law that outlaws ‘outrages against public decency’.

Michael said: ‘Despite this hate speech, Ahmed can always take solace in knowing that he has legions of supporters on his side. The fight for LGBT rights in Tunisia is long and arduous and it would never have progressed as far as it already has without Ahmed Ben Amor. He also just happens to be a really great guy. Glad to see him sticking around.’