PES, PES Women and Rainbow Rose discussing women’s and gay rights in Tunisia

PES, PES Women and Rainbow Rose discussing women’s and gay rights in Tunisia

The PES, Rainbow Rose – our network for LGBTI Rights (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and intersex people) – and PES Women debated the state of play of women’s rights and LGBTI rights in Tunis, Tunisia, on 17 September. At the conference, participants discussed how to better support those rights in the context of the EU-Tunisia trade negotiations. The conference was organised by the Global Progressive Forum, in co-operation with Rainbow Rose, Solidar Tunisia and SHAMS (Tunisian LGBTI organisation). 

Rainbow Rose President Aurélien Mazuy said: “Economics must not be the only facet of trade agreements; the human rights situation must also be regarded. The UN has condemned the article 230 of the Tunisian Penal Civil Code, which is contrary to the new Constitution. Rainbow Rose has met SHAMS and other civil society organisations to hear their demands and bring their voices to Brussels, to our political family. The European Union must to ensure the protection of LGBTI Tunisian citizens, put on the table the removal of art. 230 and promote the freedom of association for grassroots organisations”. 

Zita Gurmai, the President of PES Women praised the Tunisian record on women’s rights as an example for the region, but highlighted the need for more progress in the field of social-economic rights: “When negotiating the free trade agreements, the EU must gender mainstream its agreements in order for countries like Tunisia to ensure that women’s economic empowerment remains on the rise and exceeds the current 28% of women on the labour market. I was the fridge delighted to exchange views with active Tunisian feminists on socio-economic issues and note that they will continue demanding for better legislation.”  

Although the new Tunisian Constitution adopted in 2014 guarantees freedom of conscience, the protection of private life and equal rights for all citizens, the LGBTI minority still suffers from discriminatory laws and practices. 

The article 230 of the Criminal Code still punishes LGBTI relations with up to three years in prison.

PES Vice President Jan Royall, S&D MEP Daniele Viotti, SHAMS, Solidar and our Tunisian observer party Ettakatol – Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties participated at the conference.