Homophobia in Tunisia by Rahma Sghaier, Tunisia

Homophobia in Tunisia: People hate gays because of what non-gay people do!

Homophobia in Tunisia is a very common unhealthy attitude. Unlike what many people think, homophobia is due to various factors besides the religious one. It’s out of question today, as it always has been, to talk in public about gay rights.

Recently, bringing this cause to the political speeches −which is very rare−, is seen as an immoral act, overly loathed and misunderstood. I can spend hours talking about the reasons of people’s intolerance. But I am here today to talk about a personal experience.

imageI spoke about the gay matter 5 times tops, it’s not really one of the favorite topics here… People I spoke to, mentioned “Anyway, it’s a sin” as their last argument to end the discussion.

I was surprised to hear numerous arguments about the conducts of psychologically-disturbed persons or non-gay people. Some of them mentioned rape as the main reason why they despise homos.

I heard some stories as “you know they rape young boys”, “they are a bunch of sexually-obsessed freaks”. Hold on, are they really talking about the right subject? Yes, many people here don’t know the difference between pedophiles and gays.

Other arguments were like “Men sleep with each other just for fun; in the end they will marry a woman”. First, they blindly think that being gay is all about sex. They don’t believe that they can have real relationships, love or be committed to each other. Second, even if some gay people are unfaithful, they forget that some straight people are unfaithful too. We can’t have everyone faithful and monogamous, no matter their sexual preferences.

Moreover, it seems that those homophobic people don’t know that men who are willingly with men and with women are not gay; they are bisexual and this is another subject. In fact, the unfortunate reason why “real gays” (and not bisexual men) marry women in Tunisia is HOMOPHOBIA: the homophobic family and the intolerant society that take them to lying to themselves and choosing to marry a person they wouldn’t in other circumstances.

To sum up, people hate gays because of what non-gay people do! Back to facts, there is no convenient ways to do “come out of the closet” in Tunisia. Gays or suspected to be gay-persons are bullied in high-schools, called names and even beaten up. When they grow up, they are considered dangerous and corrupted men. They are marginalized and insulted daily. Being what they are is yet penalized in the Tunisian legislation. It’s difficult to find jobs and most of them end up being desperate and suicidal.

Rahma Sghaier, Tunisia

YaLa Young Leaders

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