Tunisia: The Spring Has Passed, But Is It Summer Yet?
It was in December of 2010 in Tunisia where a popular uprising has ousted a long despised dictatorship, and shortly an avalanche of protests has spread across the Arab world, eventually expelling the once seemingly omnipotent tyrannies in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. This unprecedented chain of long-awaited change across the region was aptly titled 'The Arab Spring', and it continues to reverberate violently in many other nations, including Syria, Bahrain, Algeria and Morocco (The list of pain and shame countres). Many in the West were initially quite hopeful and enthusiastic about what seemed to be a sudden eruption of popular and pro-democracy resistance to the ruthless tyrants of the Arab world; many, however, remained cautious in their predictions and expectations, arguing that the new victorious forces supported by the populace could not necessarily be that open to modernization and promotion of human rights and freedoms after all.
A distressing announcement came today from the office of Samir Dilou, the minister of human rights with the new Tunisian government. Mr. Dilou announced that the new Tunisian government will not follow some of the recommendations issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) and will not de-criminalize consensual same-sex relationships between adults which will remain punishable by up to three years in prison. Mr. Dilou proceeded to say that: “There is no absolute freedom. All freedoms are restricted by the law”, adding that “sexual orientation is specific to the West and Tunisia has its own identity as an Arab Muslim state”. Earlier this year Mr. Dilou publicly denounced homosexuality as a disease and not a human right. Thus, the LGBT citizens of Tunisia will continue to suffer from the state-sponsored persecution despite the fall of the authoritarian regime and the international pressure applied on the new Tunisian government.
In this context, it would not be unexpected to see similar anti-modern, anti-Western, and, as in this particular situation, anti-LGBT trends to proliferate in the newly liberated Arab world. Earlier this year, the ghastly reports of the mass killings of the gay (or those to be presumed gay) youths in Iraq have surfaced in the media: emo killings of gays in Iraq raise fears. The new Iraqi government appeared to be either unwilling or unable to stop this violence.
Sadly, the Arab world remains an extremely dangerous place for the LGBT persons. If you are from that part of the world and fear the return to your homeland, you may be eligible to seek asylum in the United States.
Source: International Lesbian and Gay Association, ilga.org