A 21-year-old medical student from Ben Aknoun in Algiers was murdered on February 10th in his room. Assil Belalta was found in his room with his throat slit and the word ‘HE IS GAY’ written with his blood on the wall of his room. On Facebook, the victim shared that he was interested in both men and women.
According to Alouen, an LGBTI activist group in Algiers, described the hate crime which occurred only two weeks after the President of the Algerian Magistrate Union gave a statement against the criminalization of homosexuality in the country:
Calling for the Algeria and the fight against homophobia ” trample on the values and foundations of the algerian people, which does not show tolerance towards homosexuals “. and that judges ” will face all those who want to earlier, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who was questioned by a German journalist about gay rights and anti-homophobia in Algeria, refused to deal with this issue because ” for Algerian society “the algerians are not concerned with the global orientation of development”.
Algerian publication observalgerie.com reports that two individuals followed Belalta back to his room and killed him before taking his car keys.
An investigation is being conducted of the murder, but there are currently few rights for members of the LGBTI community. Same-sex encounters are punishable by law with up to three years in prison.
On Febraury 11th, hundreds rallied as a demonstration urging the government to look into the crime as well as to honor Belalta.
This is a horrific reminder that in many areas of the world the persecution of the LGBTQ+ community continues. We are far from inclusion and tolerance and there is so much more work that needs to be done to end homophobia. May Assil rest in peace and may his death not be forgotten and be used to fuel change in Algiers and beyond.