A marriage settlement between a Frenchman, 31, and a Tunisian man, 26, was legally recognised in Tunisia for the first time on 24 April 2020, according to Tunisian LGBT+ rights Association Shams. Both men have remained anonymous for their safety.
Homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia and same-sex marriage is not yet permitted, but the marriage in question was formalised in France.
Nevertheless, Shams is celebrating the news. “It is a success of which I am very proud,” said Shams president Mounir Baatour, adding that it followed a years-long legal battle. “We won… against the many post-revolutionary political-judicial regimes! This is not the least of my satisfactions.
“To my knowledge, Shams is now the only LGBT+ legal association in the Arab-Muslim [majority] world.” Expectedly, the news has sparked outrage among Tunisian media and social media users, with some denouncing it as “heresy”.
Homosexuality is still a taboo subject not only on the political level but also on the social one. Aside from the fact that the majority of Tunisians believe homosexuality is a mental illness and they openly make jokes about it, there are many who call for murdering them. In 2015, several youngsters were arrested on charges of homosexuality.
Indeed in 2016, a number of Tunisian celebrities and well-known individuals in the civil society demanded the cancelation of the Article 230 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexuality. Among those supported the rights of LGBT are Suhair Bin Amara, Sawsen Maalej, Jalila Baccar, Salma Baccar and Raouf Ben Amor.