TUNISIA: Gay Lawyer Launches Campaign For President

France 24 reports:

For the first time, an openly gay candidate has thrown his hat in the ring for a presidential election in Tunisia. Mounir Baatour heads the country’s main LGBT rights group. His bid marks a test for post-revolutionary Tunisia’s fledgling democracy.

Baatour, a lawyer at Tunisia’s highest court and the president of Shams, a group seeking the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the country, has officially applied for a spot on the ballot ahead of the September 15 presidential election.

His bid for office is a first not only for the North African nation that set in motion 2011’s Arab Spring uprisings, but for the Arab world writ large.

Same-sex acts are currently punishable by up to three years in prison in Tunisia. Baatour himself served three months on such charges in 2013.

The government has recently used “forced anal testing” to seek evidence of homosexuality in men. Nearly 300 men have been jailed in the last three years.

Around 98% of Tunisia’s 12 million citizens are Muslim.