The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia: Highlighting the Plight of LGBTQI+ Persons in the Euro-Mediterranean Region

As the world observes the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), attention turns to the Euro-Mediterranean region, where LGBTQIA+ individuals continue to face systemic discrimination, persecution, and violence. 


LGBTQIA+ rights under increased attacks from anti-gender forces in Europe and the Mediterranean 

Despite incremental progress in some parts of the world, the MENA region remains a challenging environment for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Cultural taboos, legal barriers, and societal stigma create a hostile landscape where the basic rights and freedoms of LGBTQIA+ persons are routinely violated. 

In many countries across the MENA region, consensual same-sex relations are criminalized, often punishable by imprisonment. Discriminatory laws not only perpetuate violence and harassment but also foster a climate of fear and secrecy, forcing many LGBTQIA+ individuals to live in the shadows, hiding their true identities for fear of persecution. 

Over the past year, the EU space has witnessed troubling patterns wherein governments have increasingly challenged the principles of the rule of law, accompanied by a surge in hate speech targeting LGBTQIA+ individuals by political and religious figures. With the well-funded and well-coordinated anti-rights movement, the rights LGBTQIA+ persons are often manipulated to serve as a distraction from broader challenges such as the erosion of democracy and the rule of law, as well as more pressing socio-economic and political concerns. 

Furthermore, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals face additional challenges, including limited access to healthcare, discrimination in employment and education, and a lack of legal recognition of their gender identity. This systemic marginalization contributes to high rates of homelessness, unemployment, and mental health issues within the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Amidst unprecedented crackdown on dissent in Tunisia, activists for LGBTQI+ rights fear growing attacks on a shrinking civic space. 

In Tunisia, around 55,000 people have been imprisoned under article 230 since its adoption, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community continue to be victims of ill-treatment as well as violation of their defence rights. Persons with non-normative gender identities and sexual orientations face arbitrary arrests and detentions. Political figures and social media influencers are also spreading hate speech against the LGBTQIA+ persons, urging the amendment of Article 230 to double punishments, expose and abuse LGBTQIA+ activists, and even target organisations that promote LGBTQIA+ rights with complete impunity.  

In the wake of an unprecedent subjugation of the judiciary by President Said to prosecute dissent, many lawyers, human rights defenders, opposition figures from various political tendencies in Tunisia face heavy charges for “conspiracy against the state” or “terrorism”. LGBTQIA+ activists are no exception to this trend. For S.Si. Tunisia-based activist, “the targeting of queer activists has never really stopped, but lately the fear has grown among us. Our already narrow civic space is increasingly shrinking.” 

In fact, EuroMed’s Backlash Map has already reported several attacks on LGBTQIA+ activists from law enforcement authorities. For S.S., “any attempt to pressure the government from outside would risk affirming the existing conspiracy theory based on which ‘any critic to the current establishment is an enemy of the state”. Equally dangerous is the assertion that homosexuality is a western idea, often made by conservative forces in Tunisia and beyond, that justifies attacks against LGBTQIA+ persons and overlooks their mere existence. 


On this International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, it is imperative to reaffirm our commitment to promoting equality, dignity, and human rights for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.  

We call on governments, civil society organizations, and communities across the Euro-Mediterranean region to take decisive action to: 

  1. Repeal discriminatory laws and enact comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that protects the rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
  2. Ensure access to inclusive healthcare services, including mental health support.
  3. 3. Double on supporting the work of grassroots organizations and activists advocating for the rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals and provide them with the necessary resources and protection to carry out their vital work.

As we commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, let us stand in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ persons in the Euro-Mediterranean region and around the world, affirming their inherent dignity and right to live free from discrimination, violence, and fear. 

EuroMed Rights and its members continue to report backlashes to gender equality in the Euro-Mediterranean region through the gender backlash map and are fully committed to improve the situation. Launched in 2021, the Backlash map aims at monitoring political, legislative, judicial decisions that further dilute women’s and LGBTQIA+ people’s rights in the region. Everyone can report backlashes throughthe form available here. This tool participates to make visible and denounce the growing backlashes to LGBTQIA+ rights and the discriminations embedded in the laws, faced in practical terms by individuals. 

Help us map out attacks against gender equality across the Euro-Mediterranean region. 

Send a report!#ActionForEquality