Sub-Saharan LGBTQIA+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Tunisia are experiencing houselessness, illness, assault, and harassment under the watchful eye and the responsibility of the UNHCR. Sign now and show the authorities that they don't stand alone.
Since February 21st, 2023, a racist movement began to explicitely target Black migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Tunisia. Those belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community were hit the hardest, as they found themselves on the intersection of several marginalized identities, where they were targeted not only for their race and residence status, but also for their gender identity and sexual orientation in a country where homosexuality and non-conforming gender expressions are considered crimes punishable by up to three years of jail-time.
While the UNHCR vows to "protect and assist refugees" and "provide physical protection from violence, individual documentation, counseling and the most basic needs, like shelter, water, food, health care", the LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers in their charge are beaten and harrassed by strangers, landlords, and employers alike - that is when they are able to find shelter and employment. Some find themselves houseless, some pay for their own rent working unregulated odd-jobs for people who may never pay them. When the UNHCR's "beneficiaries" are injured, they're instructed to pay for their own healthcare and promised reimbursment at a later date. One asylum seeker still awaits reimbursment after being treated for assault nearly two years later, and another asking for financial assistance was told that they could be accorded priority if they contract HIV.
To access this so called protection and assistance, asylum seekers are made to wait for months, even years, before being granted an interview with an officer. These officers quickly became known within the community for their homophobic and transphobic treatment of LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers, directly contradicting the UNHCR's promise of "respect and confidentiality". Once their request is processed, they're granted a card that shows their status, but this card isn't recognized by Tunisian law enforcement officers, rendering it completely useless in protecting LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers from persecution for their sexuality and gender identity.
Black LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers in Tunisia are left to fend for themselves. Many of our brothers and sisters passed away from entirely preventable reasons. More deaths are sure to follow if we don't act now.