It’s a bit of a confusing situation, but it’s possible that Tunisia has recently recognised the legality of a same-sex marriage.
According to Association Shams, a court in Tunisia has recognised as legal a marriage settlement between a Frenchman, 31, and a Tunisian man, 26.
Sex between men is illegal in Tunisia, but reporting indicates that the court recognised the marriage because it was formalised in France.
The couple – who have chosen to remain anonymous – sought the court order as part of an application for a family reunification visa.
While LGBTQ community leaders in Tunisia are celebrating the court’s decision, there doesn’t yet appear to have been any official response from the government. It’s also unclear whether the decision will create a legal precedent that will benefit other same-sex couples.
An LGBTQ Guide to the World – what’s life like for queer people in Tunisia?
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are illegal in Tunisia. There are also no discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Tunisia is a socially conservative country, and it’s clear that it’s not a great place to be a queer person.
The legal history
Like much of the Islamic world, up until the beginning of the 19th century, homosexuality was generally accepted as part of normal society. In some instances, specific roles or functions were reserved for men who identified as homosexuality.
The Penal Code introduced in 1913 specifically criminalised sodomy, with a penalty of up to three years imprisonment.
In recent years, there have been a number of reported incidents of gay men being harassed, persecuted, and imprisoned. Anal probes have been used extensively by authorities in attempts to prove that men were gay.
The Family Code of Tunisia defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Tunisia. Same-sex marriage, or civil unions, are not legally recognised, although it’s not clear how the recent court decision may have changed that position.
Surveys suggest that their is widespread opposition to LGBTQ equality.
Is it safe for LGBTQ people to visit Tunisia
If you are planning a visit to Tunisia, you need to exercise extreme caution. While tourist resorts may be more liberal and accepting, there have been examples of foreign tourists being entrapped and prosecuted for sex between men.
You are also potentially placing local gay men in danger if you contact guys using dating or hook-up apps.