This picture shows a top Tunisian LGBT rights activist in hospital in Paris after being beaten in a gay hate attack allegedly by a fellow countryman who reportedly assaulted him in their homeland six years ago.
The incident comes just as Tunisia is set to have its first openly gay presidential candidate – lawyer Mounir Baatour – in what has been lauded as a “milestone for the Arab world”, after he put forward his candidacy on 9th August.
The victim, Nidhal Belarbi, a spokesperson for LGBT rights organisation ‘Shams’ (‘sun’ in Arabic), an organisation campaigning for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Tunisia, has been attacked in Paris, allegedly by a man who had already attacked him in Tunisia in 2013. ‘Shams’ was co-founded by Baatour.
Belarbi, who became a refugee in Paris after being condemned for homosexuality in Tunisia, was reportedly ganged up on by four men, after one of them recognised him in the street.
Belarbi, who had been granted political asylum in France, was attacked as he was going home in the 11th arrondissement, after “a man who had already assaulted him in Tunisia in 2013 recognised him in the street”, according to a statement shared on Twitter by the IDAHO-France LGBT rights organisation.
The statement continues: “This individual brought along three other people to attack Nidhal Belarbi, uttering homophobic insults,” and “beating him.”
The Paris public prosecutor’s office have opened an investigation for “voluntary violence in a group due to the sexual orientation of the victim”.
Louis-Georges Tin, the founder of the World Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, who is hosting Nidhal Belarbi while he finds a place to live, said: “He came back around 1:00 am in shock”.
Tin added that while they were in a fire engine before Belarbi was taken to hospital, “a man forced the door open and Nidhal was immediately frightened. He said ‘It’s him, I recognise him’. It was his attacker who had come back to finish the job. The firefighter had to push him away and lock the door.”
Nidhal Belarbi is recovering from multiple injuries, including “many bruises to the ribs and neck”, and now needs a neck brace.
According to IDAHO-France, the attacker works security at a nearby bar in the Rue de Lappe, in the Bastille district, not far from the scene of the attack, and “is not at his first aggression”.
Its president Alexandre Marcel has asked the City of Paris “to suspend the cafe’s operating licence, as long as the owner continues to employ and finance homophobic attackers.”
Created in 2015, ‘Shams’ militates for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Tunisia. Its co-founder, the lawyer Mounir Baatour, put forward his candidacy for the Tunisian presidential election on 9th August.
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