Similarly to most countries throughout the world, LGBT individuals in the Middle East face a number of struggles: oppression, harassment, society's judgment, and discriminatory laws to name just a few.
In many Arab countries, engaging in same-sex relationships can subject one to imprisonment. In more severe cases, they are faced with the death penalty.
In Tunisia, where homosexuality is still punishable by up to three years in prison as depicted by Article 230 of the penal code, change has paved the way for progress.
In recent years, Tunisians have made it a point to ensure fair laws, safety, and most importantly, inclusion for the LGBT community in the country.
1. When the first-ever LGBT 'queer film festival' happened
On Monday, Tunisia launched its first-ever queer film festival titled "Mawjoudin Queen Film Festival", spanning four days, despite homosexuality still being a crime in the country.
The festival will screen 12 short and medium-length films produced both from inside the country and across the Middle East and North Africa.
The films "speak of sexuality, identity, and gender affiliation," said Senda Ben Jebara, a member of the Tunisian LGBT NGO Mawjoudin, according to France 24.
"We are trying to fight not only in the courts but through art," she added.
Mawjoudin, Arabic for "we exist", organized the event, which is considered to be the first of its kind in the country.
"Through this festival we would like to give a space to queer people in general in order to escape a bit from social pressure, and also to identify with something, find a means to express ourselves," Ben Jebara added.
2. When an LGBT radio station launched despite violent threats in the country
In December, an LGBT radio station titled Radio Shams stole international headlines after debuting in the country.
The network launched with an aim to combat opposition to LGBT rights in the country by creating a platform for the community's stories to be told.
"We are going to touch, through the subjects we treat, everyone living on Tunisian soil. Our editorial policy is to talk about rights and individual freedoms in general, but the focus will be on the LGBT community," said Bouhdid Belhadi, Shams Radio's director general, according to Pink News.
Belhadi also explained that the programs aired aim to raise awareness about major issues faced by LGBT people in the country.
According to Pink News, since the station launched, its owners and managers have received numerous threats from people who oppose its vision.
3. When an LGBT documentary screened in Tunisia, featuring intimate stories from locals
In November, an LGBT documentary screened at a local film festival in a show of solidarity with sexual minorities. Directed by Nada Mezni Hafaiedh, the documentary titled "Upon the shadow" screened to a room of 500 at the Carthage Film Festival.
It intimately documents the lives of several individuals from Tunisia's LGBT community.
"I would never have thought my film would be selected and that Tunisians would be able to see it because I know that sadly in Tunisia being gay is an abomination," Hafaiedh said, according to Yahoo.
During the course of the screening, the audience broke into applause several times. Initially, the director of the film had not planned to screen it locally, having filmed it outside of Tunis in 2016.
The Carthage Film Festival chose to screen the film, emphasizing the festival's founding principle, "to express freedoms: showing films banned elsewhere or on complicated topics," said Nawres Roussi, the festival organizer.
4. When the country announced that homosexuals will no longer be forced to undergo anal tests
In September, Tunisia’s Human Rights Minister Mehdi Ben Gharbia announced that members of the country's LGBT community will no longer be subjected to forced anal examinations.
Ben Gharbia said that while judges will still be able to request suspected homosexuals to undergo the test, "that person has every right to refuse, without his refusal being held up as proof of homosexuality," according to The Daily Mail.
Anal exams are often dubbed the "egg test." This is because an egg-sized object or an actual egg is inserted into the anus.
The practice has been defined as torture by activists and numerous international organizations.
Additionally, rights groups and medical organizations have repeatedly said that the overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that the test cannot even determine whether an individual has engaged in same-sex intercourse.