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Here's the first openly gay candidate running for Tunsia's presidency Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Here's the first openly gay candidate running for Tunsia's presidency

The lawyer hopes to liberalise the economy, raise the social benefits [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 August, 2019

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An openly gay lawyer announced Thursday he would stand in Tunisia's presidential elections, a first for the Arab world.

An openly gay lawyer announced Thursday he would stand in Tunisia's presidential elections, a first for the Arab world.

Mounir Baatour's Liberal Party said the candidacy was "benchmark" in Tunsia, where homosexuality is still outlawed.

"The fact that I'm gay is just a detail that should not interfere in this election," Baatour told The New Arab last month.

"I want voters to evaluate my candidacy according to my programme as well as my background of an activist who's been fighting for years for individual liberties and rights of minorities,"

Baatour, the party's chief and a lawyer at the Court of Cassation, presents himself as a defender of LGBTQ+ rights.

The lawyer hopes to liberalise the economy, raise the social benefits and decriminalise homosexuality.

See Also: Meeting Mounir Baatour: Tunisia's first gay presidential candidate who wants to fight for individual rights

But ahead of his announcement, a petition signed by 18 groups who campaign for those rights warned his candidacy would represent a "danger" for their communities.

Baatour was jailed for three months in 2013 for "sodomy" with a 17-year-old student, which he has always denied.

Having a criminal record does not automatically ban Tunisians from standing in elections.

Presidential hopefuls have until Friday to submit their candidacy, ahead of September 15 polls.

Baatour is co-founder of the Shams association, through which he has for years campaigned against Tunisia's criminalisation of "sodomy" which carries a sentence of up to three years.

Last month's petition against his potential candidacy was signed by numerous organisations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer rights.

"We think that Mr Baatour represents not only a threat but also a huge danger for our community," the petition read.

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