Ahmed Ben Amor, VP of Shams LGBT group, survived a suicide attempt on Saturday morning. He swallowed 30 2.5 mg and 30 1 mg pills of Ativan, in addition to ingesting two other types of drugs. His close friend found him unconscious around 10 AM local time and rushed him to a private hospital in Tunis.
Upon arrival, Ahmed was diagnosed with a Stage 9 coma on the Glasgow scale, which is considered moderate to severe. Luckily for Ahmed, he is no longer in the coma and has woken up periodically. He has also begun to eat food. The doctors do not believe there will be permanent brain damage.
As the news of Ahmed’s suicide attempt spread across social media, hate messages expressing hope that he dies sprang up. However, the support for Ahmed completely outweighed the hate speech against him. Hamed Sinno, lead singer of Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou’ Leila, helped start a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #WeLoveYouAhmed. The campaign inspired hundreds of tweets expressing solidarity with Ahmed.
Support also came from unexpected places. His father and mother, who had previously kicked him out of their home upon founding out about his homosexuality, heard the news and immediately drove up from their hometown of Mahdia. According to one of Ahmed’s good friends, his parents have now “accepted the fact that their son is gay.”
Ahmed began receiving death threats on a daily basis after appearing on the popular Tunisian talk show Klam a Naas. On the program, he spoke about the need to abolish Article 230, the Tunisian penal code law which criminalizes sodomy. Many viewers were shocked at seeing the promotion of LGBT rights on national television and expressed their vitriol toward him.
According to close companions of Ahmed, the reason why he attempted suicide is because of the daily death threats and hate speech that he received in his Facebook inbox.
Despite this hate speech, Ahmed can always take solace in knowing that he has legions of supporters on his side. The fight for LGBT rights in Tunisia is long and arduous and it would never have progressed as far as it already has without Ahmed Ben Amor. He also just happens to be a really great guy. Glad to see him sticking around.