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Bouhdid Belhedi

Bouhdid Belhedi

ThinkProgress Article

"Mezin and Belhedi are LGBT rights defenders in Tunisia. As members of Tunisia’s first organization working openly for LGBT rights, they have suffered attacks, death threats, and lost family relationships."

Imams tell Tunisians to attack people “who act gay.” Two mentioned me by name. Extremists came to my house and threatened my mother, saying my LGBT advocacy was “against Islam.” But we have proof in Tunisia that if you change a law, society changes with it — even if it contradicts Islamic tradition. We must appeal Article 230.

- Bouhdid Belhedi

Bouhdid Belhedi is a defender of the LGBTQ community working on the defence of sexual minorities in Tunisia and against homophobia. He is a member of the Executive Bureau of Shams, a non-governmental organisation which works for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) rights. The association campaigns for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Tunisia and spreads values of tolerance and acceptance. After several attempts, Shams was granted official registration by Tunisia's Interior Ministry in May 2015, but was suspended for thirty days in January 2016 following an order from the Tunisian Court of First Instance. An appeal was later lodged by Shams, which allowed it to continue its activities.

Following the ousting of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali as a result of the historic protests in 2011, the situation for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Tunisia began to improve substantially. In particular the lifting of legal impediments to the work of human rights defenders and progress in the adoption of human rights legislation have been significant. Numerous HRDs who had been persecuted by the Ben Ali's regime found opportunities for viable political participation including, notably, Moncef Marzouki who was elected interim President.


Interview with Bouhdid Belhedi (French only)