News, Politics

Tunisian Presidential Commission suggests decriminalising homosexuality

A presidential commission in Tunisia has recommended the decriminalisation of the country’s anti-gay law.

Known as the Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee (COLIBE), the commission that is comprised of legislators, professors and human rights advocates, included the decriminalization of homosexuality as one of the several progressive changes recommended to the country’s President, Beji Caid Essebi.

In an interview with NBC News (who first reported the news) Neela Ghoshal, the acting director of the LGBTQ rights program at Human Rights Watch said article 230 is a holdover from Tunisia’s French colonial period, adding that “There is little record of its early enforcement, but we do know that since at least the mid-2000s, when LGBT civil society groups began to operate in Tunisia and started tracking arrests, Tunisian law enforcement officials have prosecuted people under article 230 much more aggressively than in many other countries, where such laws are a colonial holdover that are rarely implemented.”

Bochra Belhaj Hmida, a member of Tunisia’s parliament and the president of the COLIBE committee, told NBC News that while the report’s top recommendation is “the outright repeal of article 230,” they propose a second option that would amend the law by lowering the punishment from three years in prison to a cash fine of 500 dinars (around $200) and no risk of jail time.

Article 230 of the Penal Code of 1913, criminalises same sex activity with imprisonment of up to three years for private acts of sodomy between consenting adults.

View the report here.

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