The founder believes it to be the first LGBT+ radio station in the Arab world, and he isn't letting a few thousand threats stop him.
By
Mathew Whitehead

28 Dec 2017 - 3:52 PM  UPDATED 28 Dec 2017 - 3:52 PM

Bouhdid Belhedi has started up Tunisia's first LGBT+ online radio station, the first, he believes, of its kind in the Arab world.

Despite homosexuality being illegal in Tunisia, Belhedi has dedicated his life working for a non-government LGBTIQ+ organisation, Shams, which aims to fight for the decriminalisation of homosexuality and widespread tolerance and acceptance.

In an interview with Thomas Reuters Foundation Belhedi said since the radio station went online earlier this month he has received more than 4,000 threats and messages of hate.

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“In almost all instances it’s about government rhetoric that LGBT+ people represent some kind of a threat."

With support from the Dutch embassy in Tunisia, Shams Rad station's goal "is to be audible everywhere, not only in Tunisia," Belhadi said to HuffPost Tunisia.

According to the Straits Times, Belhadi intended the station to "sensitise the people of Tunisia, ordinary citizens and political decision makers about homophobia in society and to defend individual liberties.

"Our editorial policy is to talk about rights and individual freedoms in general, but the focus will be on the LGBT community."

In September of this year Tunisia agreed to stop the forced anal examinations of suspected queer men, a practice that was considered torture by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Despite the angered reactions Belhedi plans to continue to run the station, telling the Thomson Reuters Foundation, "I hope this will make a difference and create more tolerance. That is why we are here".

Read Belhedi's full interview with the Thomas Reuters foundation here.

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