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In solidarity with LGBTI Tunisian Refugees and Queer Refugees Network Leipzig

01.02.2017

(downloadable pdf attached below)

 

01.02.2017


 

In solidarity with LGBTI Tunisian Refugees and

Queer Refugees Network Leipzig


 

We were shocked and terrified as we read the statement by Queer Refugees Network Leipzig on the Leipzig BAMF decision to deport all queer Tunisian refugees (published on January 16, 2017). The arguments presented in the deportation letters are illogical and based on false assumptions on the situation of LGBTI people in Tunisia. At the same time they sound very familiar to arguments we had to read in deportation letters written by Berlin BAMF officials.

 

Now that Leipzig BAMF has announced to review the cases we strongly support Queer Refugees Network Leipzig's advice to the officials to thoroughly inform themselves about? the current situation of LGBTI in Tunisia and thus renounce their decision:

 

Homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia. According to the article 230 of the Penal Code male and female same sex consensual activity is punished by the law. Homosexuality is punished by up to 3 years of imprisonment.

 

Because of the article 230, LGBTI people in Tunisia are persecuted with no respect of their private life, dignity, and physical integrity. People are being arrested in private houses, their phones and computers are being searched. The actual situation is contradictory with the values of the new constitution of 2014 (article 21, 23, 24) that the Tunisian authorities are using as an example for a democratic free country.

 

According to many LGBTI organisations and activists in Tunisia, the number of people arrested in the last years is alarming. Probably one of the most known cases, is the case of the 6 young students from Kairouan (a city in Tunisia) who were arrested on December 2015 for homosexuality. They had to go through an anal examination, got a sentence of 3 years in prison, and a ban of 5 years from their city.

 

Even though these people were released thanks to pressure from LGBTI activists and allies, the persecution does not stop at this point. The main stream media and a big part of the society launched a homophobic campaign.

 

On April 2016, on a TV show, a famous actor held a hate speech about gay people and inciting violence against them. His discourse got a wild support in social media and some people started a campaign to ban LGBTI people from public spaces by writing signs like “Gays not allowed” in front of their shop for example.

 

The impunity of all forms of discrimination and violence against LGBTI people leaves the community in a situation of insecurity. The social pressure and the legal pressure make LGBTI people afraid for their physical and mental safety. Hiding their sexual orientation and gender identity is an everyday challenge. People who decided to leave Tunisia should be given the protection they need.

 

BAMF officials urgently need to acknowledge the causes of flight and migration from Tunisia. Requiring LGBTI people to live a life in discretion is not only not an option - it violates the decision of the EuGH made on November 7, 2013 stating:

"When assessing an application for refugee status, the competent authorities cannot reasonably expect, in order to avoid the risk of persecution, the applicant for asylum to conceal his homosexuality in his country of origin or to exercise reserve in the expression of his sexual orientation." (EuGH; November 7, 2013; C-199/12 to C-201/12)

 

Tunisia is not a safe country for LGBTI people. All queer refugees from Tunisia need to stay. All Queer people living in Tunisia should have a safer life.

 

More information on documented cases of prosecution can be found on

 

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/03/29/tunisia-men-prosecuted-homosexuality