Showing posts with label Morocco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Morocco. Show all posts

December 17, 2016

Educational Animated Vid on Gays Getting Arrested Goes Viral in Morocco

An animated video educating gay Moroccans on their rights if they are arrested has gone viral.

Collectif Aswat, a non-profit organisation calling for Morocco to repeal its homosexuality ban, created the video as a "tutorial" for gay couples on what to do if they are accused or caught by authorities.

The animation, first posted on 10 December, International Day of Human Rights, has now been watched more than 30,000 times.
It shows two men being caught and arrested by police officers, who then mistreat and humiliate them.

Homosexual activity is punishable in Morocco by up to three years in jail. A divisive law - known as Article 489 - has been the subject of several protests.
Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have demanded Moroccan authorities to decriminalize homosexuality, calling Article 489 a violation of international human rights law.

June 23, 2015

Two Moroccan Men Sentenced 4 Months for being too Close in Picture


Two Moroccan gay men have been sentenced to four months each in jail after they were arrested for standing too close to one another as they posed for a photograph in front of a historic site in Rabat. 
Lahcen, 38, and Mohsine, 25, whose surnames the Guardian is not publishing in order to protect their identities, were found guilty on Friday of homosexuality and obscenity, in a trial described by activists as grossly unfair. Under Morocco’s anti-gay laws, they were also condemned to pay a fine of 500 dirhams (£33). 
The pair were jailed earlier this month after holding each other for a photograph near Hassan tower, Rabat’s famous minaret, and a popular tourist spot.
The men were sightseeing and taking pictures as Lahcen, who is from Rabat, showed the capital to Mohsine, who was on his first visit to the city from his hometown of Marrakech in the west of the country. 
“These men will be spending the next months behind bars for one, and only one, reason: being gay,” said Aswat Collective, a prominent LGBT group in Morocco, which has campaigned for their release. “We are outraged by this injustice.”
Their arrest coincided with heightened sensitivities in Morocco about pro-LGBT activities. In last week’s issue of Maroc Hebdo magazine, it asked on its cover: “Should we burn gays?” The gay rights debate has polarised Moroccan society, which is still heavily rooted in conservative attitudes.
Mohsine and Lahcen’s case has been linked to a separate incident that took place at Hassan tower a day before their arrest. Two topless French activists, from the feminist group Femen, were arrested and immediately deported from Morocco after kissing each other in the same place in Rabat. 
The authorities suspect that Mohsine and Lahcen were copying the French activists, something that the men have since denied. Femen’s protest act has caused outrage among conservative Moroccans, prompting protests in front of the French embassy in Rabat. “This is Rabat, not Paris,” demonstrators shouted.
Mohsine and Lahcen have allegedly been subject to physical and mental abuse while in jail, said Aswat. A number of journalists were denied access to the trial. Aswat has also condemned the Moroccan ministry of interior for revealing the identities of the two men on national television, which has led to demonstrations in front of their families’ houses.
Lahcen’s mother has expressed fear for her son’s ability to survive in Morocco after his release from prison, now that his identity has been made public, Aswat said. 
“The sentencing of Lahcen and Mohsine to four months in jail is a tragic reminder that discriminatory laws have real consequences,” said Andre Banks, executive director of All Out, a global movement for equality, referring to article 489 of Morocco’s penal code which requires six months’ to three years’ imprisonment for homosexuality. 
“We will continue to work with our partners in Morocco until both innocent men are free – and until being gay is no longer a crime. No country should imprison its citizens because of who they love,” said Banks. More than 55,000 have signed All Out’s online petition, urging the Moroccan authorities to release Mohsine and Lahcen.
The human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, said their detention fit the recent pattern of crackdown on LGBT activists in Morocco and was likely to damage the country’s international reputation as a tourist destination. 
“There seems to be an escalating crackdown on gay and bisexual men in Morocco. A moral panic is being whipped up about homosexuality, aided by sections of the media,” he said. “These are just the latest of several arrests in recent months. In this case, and some others, there is no evidence of same-sex acts. Lahcen and Mohsine appear to have been arrested for the mere expression of affection, which is technically not a crime under Moroccan law.”
Tatchell added: “Male homosexuality is widespread in Morocco. Until recently there was a de facto toleration of same-sex relations, providing they were private and hidden. The intensifying repression coincides with more gay Moroccans coming out and the emergence of online gay publications and chat rooms.”

October 6, 2014

Gay Man Get 4 Months in Jail for Being Gay in Morocco

Ray Cole
A Facebook photo of Ray Cole. His family say he is sleeping on the floor of a cell packed with 60 people. Photograph: Facebook
A British man has been jailed for four months in Morocco for being gay, his family have said.
Ray Cole, 70, was arrested while on holiday, according to his son Adrian, who said that authorities in the north African country had been reluctant to even reveal where his father was.
He posted a picture of the Central prison in Marrakesh, where he said his father was being held. “My father has a spot on the floor ... But that’s quite reasonable, after all he is a gay and had the temerity to visit Morocco as a tourist for a holiday,” he wrote.
He said that life inside the prison was “pretty bleak … they are served boiled vegetables once a day and his cell is a dorm designed to sleep 44, however since there are 60 men in there my 70-year-old father sleeps on the concrete floor.” He said his father, who lives in Kent, was being held alongside murderers and rapists.
It is understood that when Cole, who came out as gay a few years ago, was arrested police searched his phone and found photographs which they used to prosecute him in court.
Charlie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover, branded the charges “medieval” and said it showed British tourists were not safe in Morocco.
He said: “I have been doing all I can to help free Mr Cole from these appalling charges. I am deeply concerned about his safety and it is clear that if you visit Morocco you are at serious risk of facing trumped up charges for medieval crimes. The message is clear – Morocco is not safe for British tourists.
“I am gravely concerned by the state of Moroccan prisons, and the care and the safety he will have in jail. I’m raising it with ministers, asking them to intervene more directly on his behalf. It is a shocking and appalling situation for a British national to be in and it is really important to get him back to the UK.”
The Foreign Office said: “We can confirm the detention of a British man in Morocco. We are providing consular assistance.
Source: The Guardian

June 17, 2014

Ricky Martin in homophobic Morocco sings “He is all I need”


Since acknowledging he was gay in 2010, Ricky Martin has been one of the world's most foremost champions of gay rights. 
His most recent bold stance came during a music festival in Morocco where he changed the word “she” to “he” while performing one of his biggest hits, “She’s All I Ever Had.”
Martin apparently changed the pronouns during the climax of the song.
“It’s the way he understands/ He’s my lover, he’s my friend,” the singer crooned. “When I look into his eyes it’s the way I feel inside/ Like the man I want to be ‘He’s all I ever need.”
In the original video, which aired in 1999, Martin is seen kissing and caressing a female model and the lyrics are about a man missing a woman.
While his tweak of the lyrics may have been subtle, it was a profound message in Morocco, where being gay is a crime – anyone found guilty of having gay sex faces six months to three years in prison.
According to ThinkProgress, six Moroccan men were reportedly jailed for being gay last month.
In addition to changing the lyrics to his hit song, Martin also called two fans that held a gay pride flag in the crowd while he sang ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca.’
“What a beautiful rainbow flag right there!” he said, according toGay Star News.
pic: VIENNA, AUSTRIA - MAY 31: Ricky Martin performs on stage during the Lifeball 2014 at City Hall on May 31, 2014 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images) (2014 GETTY IMAGES)

November 18, 2013

Moroccans Gays Hope Cyber is the Door to Accceptance

  • The interview has something of a cloak-and-dagger feel about it.
  • “Nadya,” an elegant social worker in her mid-20s, rushes into a dark and crowded jazz club in downtown Rabat, the capital of Morocco. She finds the foreigner holding the notebook and begins to speak in an urgent whisper.
  • “We’re going to have to leave; this isn’t something we can talk about in bars,” she says. “I set it up so we could meet in my friend’s flat. Let’s go.”
  • Only when we leave the bar and begin plodding through Rabat traffic does she begin to talk normally. Nadya doesn’t want her real name used because she fears losing her job if her bosses find out she campaigns, in her spare time, with a few queer and allied friends, for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Morocco.
  • “My parents don’t know, and no one at my job knows,” she says. “Most people who are gay just live in hiding. I know I’m going to have to ‘come out’ someday, but I’m really scared.”
  • Here, as in the rest of North Africa, same-sex attraction is truly “the love that dare not speak its name.” The Moroccan criminal code threatens “anyone who commits an indiscreet act or an act against nature with someone of his or her own sex” with a prison sentence of six months to three years and a fine of 200 to 1,000 dirhams ($25 to $125 Canadian). According to data collected by Kifkif, a Spain-based organization advocating for gay rights in Morocco, about 5,000 gay and lesbian people have stood trial on homosexuality charges since Morocco gained independence from France in 1956. In May of this year, two young men in Rabat were sentenced to prison for homosexuality.
  • Nadya says she knows many young people who have been kicked out of their homes. At 28, she has already moved into her own place but still fears her family’s reaction to her identity. “It would be total panic,” she says. “If they rejected me because of it, that would be a real shame.”
  • While the Arab Spring of 2011 spawned a protest movement and brought a reformed constitution and a breath of political fresh air to this monarchy, it did not ruffle the official stance on gay rights. Even in a bustling, cosmopolitan city like Rabat, where people of all races live and work and as many women wear the veil as don’t, latent homophobia simmers below the surface. “Phobia” is perhaps more accurately used in the Greek sense than the modern one — people react with fear when the subject is brought up.
  • “I don’t want to talk about it; it just upsets me,” says one train passenger in Rabat, moving away from the conversation.
  • “You must be very stupid to pursue this story,” adds another.
  • Very few civil society organizations address homosexuality. “Even the activists who led us through the Arab Spring reject homosexuality, and organizations who work on other forms of antidiscrimination do not include discrimination based on sexual orientation,” Nadya says. “The Organization for the Fight against AIDS has a gay men’s working group, the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties [a leftwing protest movement] has touched on it, and that’s about it.”
  • Nadya participates — with her face covered — in cheeky YouTube videos calling for decriminalization, set to Lily Allen’s “Fuck You.” Inside a cozy Rabat apartment, rented by an actress friend of Nadya’s and filled with young, artistic people, her friends can play the videos on repeat and laugh. Outside, not a chance.
  • Nadya believes there are many reasons for hostility toward gays and lesbians in Morocco. “Politics, religion and fear enter into it. Women are also afraid, like, ‘You’re a lesbian, so you are going to jump on me.’”
  • Fear of rejection leads many queer Moroccans to live elaborate double lives.
  • “My family are religious, pious people... same thing with my colleagues at work who are conservative Muslims. They would not accept this idea; it would take too long to explain,” says Laila E, Nadya’s girlfriend, an administrative assistant. “So I can only be myself with the [queer] community.”
  • Ishaq Nouri and Marwan Bensaid have taken their double lives one step further. The two wide-eyed 21-year-old computer scientists turned journalists edit Aswat, an Arabic-language LGBT monthly magazine. They each use two different first and last names, with different Facebook accounts and groups of friends to go with each. Ishaq and Marwan are not their legal names, rather the names of their Aswat identities.
  • “Our friends don’t know what I’m doing; my family doesn’t know what I’m doing,” Nouri says. “We avoid publishing our real names; all of our writers use pen names, and we avoid using photos.”
  • The magazine talks about sexual health, current events and films; it includes advice on potential problems, such as coming out, and interviews with prominent queer Arabs, such as French-Moroccan novelist Abdellah Taïa and Ludovic Zahed, founder of Europe’s first gay-friendly Muslim prayer room. Twelve people, mostly students, put together the magazine on a volunteer basis, on their own laptops.
  • “We have no office, and we have to hide what we do from our families,” Nouri says. “With school, it takes a lot of time. We do take risks, but it’s for a good cause.”
  • “If my parents find out what I’m doing, I’ll have to leave the house and permanently leave the country,” says Bensaid, more cautious and softspoken than his extroverted co-editor.
  • “In the eyes of the law, homosexuality is a crime,” Nouri says. “And we’ve had problems — Marwan’s computer has been hacked twice, and after another Moroccan magazine did a story on us, an imam posted a video on YouTube saying we would burn in hell. But if we were scared, we wouldn’t be doing it.
  • “With the magazine, our goal is to raise awareness among gays and lesbians of what’s going on in the community and then approach the general public,” he says. “We need to think about changing people’s mentalities. They think that we’re some kind of criminals; others think we don’t exist in real life.
  • “We’re here to make things move and to start talking about ourselves,” he continues. “We have to admit that we exist and that people different from us exist and that’s natural. People haven’t realized that yet.”
  • A print edition remains out of the question. “It wouldn’t be possible to do a print edition,” Bensaid says. “Here in Morocco there are a lot of taboos, a lot of red lines you can’t cross — too many red lines.”
  • Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based press-freedom organization, has declared that “religion, the king and the monarchy in general, the country and territorial integrity cannot be questioned” in the country’s press.
  • With the print media and the public space closed off, the Moroccan LGBT movement is a child of the internet; of forums like and, which have hundreds of members; of Facebook groups and websites; of online magazines like Aswat and its predecessor, Mithly. According to Nouri, Aswat now has 5,400 unique visitors a month.
  • “The whole movement started virtually, through Facebook and other social networks,” says Laila E. “You get to know one person, that person gets to know others and it gets bigger.”
  • “Having a public [offline] event like a Pride would be much more challenging. I’ve dreamed about that, but it’s not a realistic dream.”
  • There is no separation of faith and state in the Islamic monarchy, where the reigning king, Mohamed VI, is considered to be the “commander of the believers” and a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. During Ramadan, the holy month during which observant Muslims fast and pray throughout the daylight hours, restaurants are legally forbidden from serving food to adult Muslims.
  • Although the current king has decreed the equality of men and women, Islam remains inextricable from politics and law.
  • “Religion blocks us from making progress, because in this country you can’t legalize something which is forbidden by religion,” Nadya says. “Hopefully, in a few years we will be able to put in place secularism; that would open the door to a lot of other things.
  • “To come out is to be a pariah; it’s difficult to find work,” Nadya continues. “Already I’m somewhat rejected because I keep my hair short and I’m unmarried at 28. But I have an advantage in that I’m financially independent. Most young people still live with their parents, and we know a lot of people who have been kicked out. There’s no group that is working on that issue specifically; people talk among themselves.”
  • Nadya says that as a lesbian she has had less difficulty finding and keeping a job than her male or transgender counterparts.
  • “I’m lucky, because I can pretty much go unnoticed. The ones who have the most trouble are gay guys and transgender people,” she says. “Where I went to university, I knew someone who was gay. He wasn’t able to find work even though we’d gone to a very good university and our field was very much in demand; everyone in my graduating class got work except for him. You can imagine, there are people who have a really difficult time because of this. For transgender people, prostitution is the only option.” It’s an option with its own dangers, of course, as prostitution and consensual sex out of wedlock are both crimes in Morocco.
  • “One of the reasons people condemn homosexuality is because people associate it with prostitution, because some people use it for prostitution,” Nadya adds.
  • Fortunately, unlike in some southern African countries, violence and death threats are not part of daily life for these activists.
  • But other forms of intimidation can be scary, especially for trans people and those who don’t dress according to gender norms.
  • “There is violence; it’s verbal above all, but it can be physical,” Nadya says. “I personally haven’t had to deal with any violence, but I had a girlfriend whose orientation was very visible, and people would call her ‘brother’ in the street; it was really quite scary.
  • “If you do get physically attacked, the people who attack you have absolute impunity. Because the law does not protect you, you can’t go file a complaint with the police. It’s like being an illegal immigrant. Because there’s no law; it’s the law of the jungle.”
  • Despite the Arab Spring and the increasing liberties taken by other minority groups in the country — for example, atheist groups who have become increasingly visible — the young activists can’t imagine a Pride in the streets of Marrakesh or Tangier anytime soon.
  • “We want to get together, to mobilize and to tell people that we are normal, that being homosexual is not a psychological disorder,” Nadya says. “We need to work things out with our families, our friends and ourselves before starting a movement. Are we ready for the consequences of rejection?”
  • For Nouri, the Arab Spring has planted a welcome seed of dissent in the public sphere in Morocco. If atheists and religious dissenters now dare to eat in public during Ramadan, how unrealistic is a public LGBT event? “It’s still impossible under the law,” he says, “but people have become more courageous. People are starting to fight for good causes; there is a little seed of a movement. Now we can express ourselves better. Nothing concrete has changed, but we can say, ‘We’re here, we exist.’”
  • A talk with Abdellah Taïa
    The man hailed as Morocco’s first openly gay author
  • Known as the first Arab writer to publicly declare his homosexuality, Abdellah Taïa grew up in Rabat, where poverty and queerness both stunted and stoked his literary ambitions.
  • Today, as he edges into his 40s, his work has become a necessary, and perhaps unique, bridge between the Arab world and the West. To the English-speaking world, his best-known work is his autobiographical novel Salvation Army — a brief and heart-wrenching account of his coming-of-age and eventual departure from Morocco. By speaking unabashedly about sex tourists, the latent sexuality of invisible populations, and his first contacts with a bewildering Europe, Taïa scandalized the Moroccan press even while he won international acclaim.
  • The English translation of his new novel, Infidels, will be published this spring. On Oct 23 he participated in the Beyond Queer event at the Vancouver International Writers Festival. —Michael Harris
  • Xtra: Your Wikipedia page says you’ve been in self-imposed exile from Morocco since 1998. Is that what it feels like? Exile?
  • Abdellah Taïa: To be honest, I’m not totally comfortable with the expression “self-exiled.” But I did decide, when I was 13, to go one day to Paris in order to be who I am: a free individual.
  • Being gay has become integral to your identity as a writer. Do you think this will change as your career develops?
  • No, this will never change. I create from a world that I know very intimately — what’s happening inside of me. Homosexuality is here, in me, in that world. But homosexuality is not my subject; it’s a subject for everyone, even for heterosexuals. I don’t say to myself that I have to write about homosexuality. This very important part of me simply comes out every time I write,
    in a very natural way.
  • And that gay identity intersects with class and cultural background. All these parts of you sort of run into each other in your writing. Is there a hierarchy, do you think, between these aspects of identity?
  • There’s no hierarchy at all. Never. There’s a lot of chaos, in my head and on the paper. Everything is mixed up: politics, sexuality, love, social problems... What’s very important for me is to succeed in finding the right form for this endless chaos. To find a little phrase with a certain rhythm. Not to be descriptive, but to be poetic. And to never, never let go until the end of the story.
  • BY 

October 6, 2013

A Couple of Teens Were Arrested in Morocco for Facebook Kiss Picture

Morocco arrests teens for Facebook kiss picture


Police in Morocco arrested two teenagers on Thursday, a girl and boy, for “violating public decency” by posting on Facebook a picture of themselves kissing, which provoked other young people to post similar photographs.

By News Wires (text)
Moroccan police have arrested a teenage boy and girl for posting a photo on Facebook of them kissing, with the incident provoking a slew of copycats, a rights organisation said Friday.
“It involves a teenage boy and his girlfriend. They were arrested on Thursday for violating public decency by posting a photo of them kissing” in the northeastern town of Nador, said Chakib al-Khayari, president of the Rif Association of Human Rights.
The photograph was taken outside the high school where the two are students.
The young couple are being held in the juvenile detention centre in Nador, where a sit-in has begun to demand their release, Khayari said.
The incident has caused such a stir among young people that a number of other couples have posted similar photos on their Facebook pages.
A local official contacted by AFP confirmed the arrests, but declined to comment.
Khayari said the pair are to appear before a juvenile court judge next Friday.

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