Tusisia’s LGBTQ+ film festival defies the country’s law on homosexuality.
On Monday 15th January, the Mawjoudin film festival kicked off in Tunisia. The festival celebrates LGBTQ+ voices and talent and is the first festival of its nature to be held in the country.
Across four days, the festival showcased twelve short and medium-length films which explored themes of sexuality, identity and non-normative gender. The films were created by filmmakers from Africa and the Middle East in a bid to break the taboos in the region that surrounds the topic of sexuality.
On the Mawjoudin website, the creators of the festival say:
The festival conceives of itself as audacious; it will deal more with the inter-sectional approach in the fight against gender based discrimination and repression. Its unprecedented screening program will rhyme with discoveries, stimulate reflection, and aspire to illuminate basic notions that are blurred or even erroneous in the collective unconscious.
The event was organised by Mawjoudin, Arabic in collaboration with “We Exist”, a Tunisian non-government association that helps to defend the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the country.
Senda Ben Jebara, a member of Mawjoudin told News24 that:
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.
The queer festival comes a month after news that the first online radio station in the Arab world to cater for the LGBTQ+ community went live.
Whilst the festival and the radio station highlight a positive change of behaviours towards sexuality in the country, Tunisia is far from approving of homosexuality. Article 230 of the penal code means that those accused of homosexuality can receive a punishment of up to three years in prison.