Gay rights advocate in Tunisia appeals rejection of presidential bid


A Tunisian advocate of gay rights has filed a legal challenge against an electoral commission's decision to block his bid to stand for president in the country's upcoming election, the panel said on Sunday.

Mounir Baatour, the head of an association espousing the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, was among dozens of presidential hopefuls that the commission disqualified from Tunisia's presidential election, scheduled for 15 September. Baatour, an opposition politician, had unveiled an electoral platform featuring decriminalising homosexuality in the Muslim-majority country.

In 2013, Baatour was arrested over alleged practice of sodomy, which is illegal in Tunisia. The 48-year-old lawyer said in media remarks he had collected over 20,000 voter signatures, two times higher than what is required for an eligible candidate to stand for president in Tunisia.

A Tunisian administrative court is due to begin on Monday hearing appeals filed by the disqualified presidential contenders. On Wednesday, the electoral commission announced that 26 candidates have been initially approved to run in the presidential vote. A total of 97 presidential hopefuls had submitted applications. A final list is expected to be announced by 31 August.

Tunisia's first democratically elected president, Beji Caid Essebsi, died on 25 July, five months before the end of his term. Presidential elections were pushed forward to 15 September as a result.

Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts, is widely seen as the sole democratic success story of the 2010-11 uprisings. (dpa)

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