News | Tunisia

New Tunisian Government to Recognize 'Dignity' of Homosexuals: Gays 'Have a Right to Exist'

Think Progress LGBT reports that the Islamist party that won the country’s first free vote since autocratic president Ben Ali was overthrown plans to recognize that there are gay people:

TunisiaNahda party spokesman Riad Chaibi has offered reassurances that the new leadership does not want to deprive citizens of individual freedoms, going so far as to say that being gay is “a matter of dignity”:

Chaibi, who spent five years in prison for his opposition to dictator Ben Ali, said that in Tunisia “individual freedoms and human rights are enshrined principles” and that atheists and homosexuals are a reality in Tunisia and “have a right to exist.” According to Chaibi, in the case of homosexuals there is also “a matter of dignity, because society sees them as undervalued.”

And yes, this is progress.

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  1. Promising news from a region where we rarely hear any.

    Posted by: Glenn I | Oct 26, 2011 1:18:31 PM

  2. You won't see formal recognition of same-sex relationships there any time soon.

    But what this means is that they might stop going out of their way to officially persecute and criminalize gays. That's huge progress already and basically what the western gay rights movement started with in the 50s and 60s.

    Posted by: Steve | Oct 26, 2011 1:22:58 PM

  3. Gays have the right to exist?! I guess that's better than "death to the gays!"

    Posted by: Ruben | Oct 26, 2011 1:33:50 PM

  4. Compassion for Humanity...
    Let there be hope for the World.

    Violence and Hatred is exhausting.

    Posted by: John Doe | Oct 26, 2011 1:39:40 PM

  5. This is seriously exciting and definite progress. This alongside the election this week gives me a lot of hope for the region and I look forward to seeing how this develops further.

    Posted by: Adric | Oct 26, 2011 1:47:43 PM

  6. In Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, it's becoming apparent that the term "Islamist" is expanding beyond the narrow definition of "fundamentalist religious moron." In many cases, this might still be an accurate definition, but in other cases, such as this one in Tunisia, opposition movements may be using the term as a synonym for "populist." This might vary from case to case in the future, which may produce the unexpected result of political parties that are "Islamist" in name repealing sodomy laws.

    Before we get too condescending, it might be enlightening to remember that the reforms of the French Revolution did away with sodomy laws throughout most of western/central Europe during the Napoleonic era, 200 years ago. That's so much more advanced than those present-day Muslim countries, n'est-ce pas? Oh, wait. I forgot. The English-speaking countries outside the U.S. didn't get rid of sodomy laws until the 1960s, and the asswipe U.S. Supreme Court didn't get rid of all American sodomy laws until 2003. And before the 20th century, you would have done well to *avoid* Western countries and live in a Muslim one instead, that is, if you valued sexual tolerance. As I said, before we get too condescending. (Ahem.)

    Posted by: Artie | Oct 26, 2011 1:59:58 PM

  7. This position will do much to encourage Western tourist $$$, and I'm not just talking about gay tourists, in a country rich with Roman and Islamic art, history and influence. They will sure need the cash as they begin to rebuild their country.

    Posted by: Clint | Oct 26, 2011 2:05:25 PM

  8. Rick, are you out there? I have no actual travel experience in Arab countries, but I believe you have. Would you like to comment?

    Posted by: Artie | Oct 26, 2011 2:05:42 PM

  9. Excellent news indeed

    Posted by: Uluwehi | Oct 26, 2011 2:11:38 PM

  10. This is great and promising news, lets hope they follow through. And I hope this sets a trend for newly liberated Arab countries.

    Posted by: E.N. | Oct 26, 2011 2:14:17 PM

  11. I will never forget two years ago driving through the country of Tunisia and just outside of an army base young men hitch hiking to Tunis. There were a lot of men everywhere throughout the country they were bored and out of work but a lot of men. And than there are are the cafes in downtown Tunis....

    Posted by: megamike | Oct 26, 2011 2:44:12 PM

  12. @artie
    I agree. I'd also like to add that you'd still be hard pressed to find anyone on the right (except Fred Karger) willing to say on the record that gays have a RIGHT to exist.

    Posted by: Charles | Oct 26, 2011 2:45:46 PM

  13. Don’t chant victory until it’s enshrined in the new Constitution –the human rights that is- and after that, look for any measure –laws or judicial rulings- to get rid of old persecutions against individuals just for being whatever. But you can dream, I concede that.

    Posted by: Lexxvs | Oct 26, 2011 4:49:55 PM

  14. Author of original story here!

    Those having the vapours at 'Islamist' need reminding that numerous European centre-right parties are nominally 'Catholic'.

    Turkey is not San Francisco but it isn't Iran either - and Turkey is the model for these guys.

    Posted by: paul canning | Oct 26, 2011 6:05:34 PM

  15. This is a big deal.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Oct 27, 2011 9:24:32 AM

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