Openly gay lawyer and defender of LGBTQ rights Mounir Baatour recently announced that he will be running for president in Tunisia despite criticism, a feat that has never been attempted before, according to France24.
It won’t be easy for him, however, as eighteen different groups signed a petition that says that the lawyer at Tunisia’s highest court’s campaign presents a danger for Tunisian communities. Baatour is not discouraged though – he doesn’t believe that his being gay will affect him in any way and that he is a candidate just like all of the others. He also said, “I have an economic, social, cultural and educational programme for everything that affects Tunisians in their daily lives.” This is a definite positive because as a presidential candidate it is important to be aware of the issues facing the country one wishes to govern over so by Baatour having concrete ideas about the future of Tunisia may help him get the votes that he needs.
Tunisia, unfortunately, has anti-sodomy laws that are used to disproportionately imprison LGBTQ individuals so what Baatour is looking at is an uphill battle. He wants to change that though, as he said in response to his running for president “I saw there is no progress on this matter in Tunisia: there is no politician who is endorsing these cases and in my opinion, I am the best person who can change the Tunisian society.” This seems like exactly what needs to happen so that LGBTQ Tunisians will eventually have equal rights, as the first step in fixing a problem is to acknowledge that it exists.
It seems to me that Baatour will have to fight harder than other candidates for the presidency and even if he is not elected, I think that this is still a very important first step towards LGBTQ equality. What do you think? Does he have a chance or will his opposition be too great?