Message to the Tunisian LGBTi community ahead of International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia
"Greetings from Strasbourg!
My name is Ian Duncan and I am a Member of the European Parliament representing Scotland. I am also the Vice President of the Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup.
Just yesterday Scotland was recognised as the best European country for LGBTI equality rights. We have come a long way since 1980 when homosexuality was decriminalised.
Scotland legalised gay marriage on 31 December 2014. The leader of my political party, Ruth Davidson is already discussing marriage with her girlfriend.
We have come a long way, but the journey isn’t over. Homophobia, Transphobia and other discriminations are all still with us.
That is why I am sending you this message. You are the heart of a movement seeking to change a culture, to change attitudes which have caused harm and grief to gay people in your country.
I am sorry I cannot be with you. I would very much like to to have joined your the round table discussion on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The Secretary of the LGBTI group, Evert Jacobson, will be with you. His work in the European Parliament has been invaluable in helping us confront discrimination wherever it appears.
On this day we remember that on 17 May 1992 the World Health Organisation recognised that homosexuality was not a disease. This change paved the way for widespread decriminalisation of homosexuality across the world.
There are still 78 today nations which treat the LGBTI as criminals just for being themselves. Sadly Tunisia is one of them. Presumed homosexuals are still jailed, with evidence gathered in ways which violate the constitutional right to privacy. Indeed the widespread use of the 'anal test,’ has been condemned by the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture.
Social media is become an important tool for bringing together gay communities from across the globe. However, in some places, it has also allowed homophobia to grow, aided and abetted by hate speech from individuals who should know better.
I cannot stress enough how important is you work, and how courageous you are for undertaking it. This IDAHO round table is a beacon of rightness is a dark time. Homophobes want to make you invisible. They hope lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people will stop speaking out because it's illegal.
I know you will never stop speaking out, raising you voice, challenging hate, confronting bigots, fighting for your rights.
And from the European Parliament I want to say: we see you, we hear you and we stand with you.
We are currently working on a report on the EU's relations with Tunisia, where we will include a strong call for decriminalization of homosexuality. It is a beginning. It is time for the Tunisian Government to change the law.
From the European Parliament I say to you that you can count on our full support."