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First Middle Eastern LGBT Radio Station Begins in Tunisia

by Ryan Lynch .
Saturday Dec 23, 2017

Tunisia is now the first country in the Middle East to have a radio station devoted to LGBT issues.

Radio Shams, which debuted on Dec. 15, will be devoted to discussion of LGBT issues as well as news and politics, according to NewNowNext. The station was created by LGBT advocacy group Shams, who also received support from the Dutch embassy.

"Our goal is to be audible everywhere, not only in Tunisia, which is feasible with this format," Station Director Bouhdid Belhadi said.

Notably, homosexuality is a crime in Tunisia. According to Article 230 of the Tunisia penal code, homosexuality is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

Tunisia also punishes people who appear like the opposite sex, according to Article 226 of the penal code. That includes two men who were arrested in March for "assaulting public decency with an obscene attitude," according to NewNowNext.

The station has not received universal support. Activist Tounsi Hor said that homosexuality was not compatible with Tunisian or Islamic culture.

"There is a difference between freedoms, moral decay and chaotic values," Hor said. He called on the local government to ""to put an end to the messages which this minority, that doesn't respect [Islam] and that encourages vice, will promote."

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