The Tunisian authorities have denied becoming the first Arab government to recognise same-sex marriage and say the incident was an “error”.
Tunisia’s Minister of Local Affairs Lotfi Zitoun, reportedly told local news website Nawaat “we are therefore in the process of verifying the information” as there is no “centralisation of civil status data”.
However, he added: “If it is true, know that it is against the law.
“French law does not allow recognition of same-sex marriage by Maghreb countries. There was a precedent, an error committed by the municipality of Tunis. And it has been rectified.”
He was referring to laws implemented by the French during the colonial period.
The statement comes after Tunisian LGBTQ organisation ‘Shams’ had made global headlines after announcing on Facebook: “For first time in the history of Tunisia and the Arab world, a gay marriage contract between a man of French nationality and another of Tunisian nationality is officially recognised in Tunisia.”
Shams president Mounir Baatour wrote on social media: “While homosexuality is still punished with prison in Tunisia, and several gay people are currently in Tunisian prisons, a gay marriage has just been included in the birth certificate of a Tunisian.”
Local media has asked for confirmation from Tunisia’s foreign ministry and are still waiting for a response.
The Shams organisation aims to decriminalise homosexuality in Tunisia.
According to reports, a court recognised Shams’ legal status in March following calls from the Muslim-majority state to shut down the group.
Baatour called the legal victory a “success of which I am very proud”.
He added: “[Shams] became legal after years of legal battle. We won… against the many post-revolutionary political-judicial regimes!
“This is not the least of my satisfactions. To my knowledge, Shams is now the only legal association in the Arab-Muslim world. This is not nothing and offers us hardly believable opportunities, sometimes beyond our borders.”
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