Mawjoudin We Exist is a Tunisian association that has been fighting for the equality and rights of LGBTIQ+ people since 2015.
Mawjoudin is focused on building strategic allies and conducts workshops in universities to deconstruct the negative images of LGBTIQ+ portrayed by the Tunisian government. They hosted the African Middle Eastern Film Festival in 2018 and the Global South Film Festival in 2019. These festivals also host drag shows, political speeches, and human rights debates.
Mawjoudin hosts various workshops & debates, including in digital security. The LGBTIQ+ community faces many online issues regarding forced outing, shaming, harassment & blackmailing. Due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, there has been an increase in cyber violence and bullying towards LGBTIQ+ individuals. Mawjoudin developed two campaigns to stop cyber violence during this time and successfully reported homophobic influencers to social media platforms that have been stopped from spreading hate speech in various countries.
Mawjoudin explains that most of Tunisian society is homophobic, but this intolerance is less visible compared to neighboring countries. The Revolution allowed Tunisians to gain freedom of expression including for marginalized groups such as LGBTIQ+/Queers, the disabled, racial minorities, sex workers, women, and survivors of violence. The Revolution also gave Tunisians access to the internet, allowing for communities to build in virtual spaces and turn their collective actions into initiatives & NGOs.
During the lockdowns, Mawjoudin has provided food and emergency shelter for LGBTIQ+ refugees, migrants, & asylum seekers. They discovered that these vulnerable groups are in need of support for their basic rights. They are trying to partner with international NGOs to help sex workers through COVID-19 since they have struggled during this time.
They have also advocated at the international level where they denounced Article 230 during The Universal Periodic Review in 2017, that pertains to anal testing which is a form of torture. Homosexuality is criminalized in Tunisia with articles condemning individual rights regarding sexual freedoms & gender identities, which affects sex workers & the trans community. Activists started advocating against this article six years ago due to the harm LGBTIQ people have faced in the past from being jailed, tortured and attacked.