Tunisian LGBT rights group suspended in “setback for equal rights”

Tunisian authorities have suspended an LGBT rights group in a move that Human Rights Watch have described as a “setback for equal rights”.

Shams, which registered with the government’s secretary general in May 2015 as an organisation supporting sexual and gender minorities, was suspended on January 4 for 30 days.

After the 30 days has passed, it’s feared that the judiciary could order the groups’ dissolution.

Anna Guellali, Tunisia director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Shams seeks to carry out basic human rights work, such as standing up for LGBT people who have been victims of violence. This suspension denies them the chance to carry out this important work.”

The government’s complaint against Shams was filed on December 15, quoting a media statement by the association’s members to suggest that their aim was to “defend homosexuals”.

Shams has seen criticism from government officials for its outspoken support for a repeal of article 230 of the penal code, which punishes same-sex sexual relations by up to three years in prison.

It was recently reported that a student arrested in Tunisia for being gay was released early after being subjected to medical exams to try and “prove” his sexuality.

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