Despite the fact that homosexuality is still considered a crime in Tunisia, an LGBT documentary recently 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.
During the course of the screening, the audience broke into applause several times. But, it wasn't all positive news.
According to Yahoo, a dozen people left the theater following explicit scenes showing naked transvestites or two men kissing.
"The message of tolerance is good, but showing naked men isn't acceptable," said Nada, who was among the audience.
Sandra, a young transgender woman featured in the documentary is the only character who chose not to leave the country.
"I don't mind telling my story with my face uncovered" even if "I risk being insulted," she said.
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.
Tunisia is "committed to protecting" sexual minorities
In September, Tunisia's minister of human rights Mehdi Ben Gharbia promised that members of Tunisia's LGBT community will no longer be subjected to forced anal examinations.
While judges will still be able to request that suspected homosexuals undergo the test, "that person has every right to refuse, without his refusal being held up as proof of homosexuality," said Ben Gharbia, according to The Daily Mail.
There was no specific timeline given as to when the test will officially be banned, but Ben Gharbia said Tunisia is "committed to protecting the sexual minority from any form of stigmatization, discrimination and violence [sic]."
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.
Homosexuals can face 3 years in prison
In Tunisia, homosexuality is still punishable by up to three years in prison. LGBT individuals face arrest and significant discrimination.
Rights group Amnesty International called on the country to take action and protect sexual minorities in a report titled, "Tunisia must live up to promises to end impunity for security forces at UN Human Rights Council."
The rights organization "deeply regrets Tunisia’s rejection of 14 recommendations relating the decriminalization of same-sex relations by repealing article 230 of the Penal Code," it said.