Agence France-Presse reports:
Three Moroccan men accused of homosexuality have been sentenced to three years in jail each by a court in northeastern Morocco, a rights group said on Monday.
Homosexuality and sexual relations outside marriage are forbidden in the conservative North African nation.
Hassan Ammari of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) told AFP the sentence was handed down on Friday by a court in the city of Taourirt, confirming media reports.
Two of the men, a mechanic in his 40s and a man in his 20s, were “caught in the act” in the mechanic’s workshop by police acting on a tip-off, Ammari said.
They were arrested and during their detention they said they had met through a mutual friend, who was also arrested, and admitted having sexual relations.
Earlier this month, Morocco World News reported that the Moroccan LGBTI rights group Aswat (“Voice” in Arabic) denounced “the secret arrest of homosexuals and lesbians” in Morocco.
The group has been waging a campaign against Morocco’s anti-gay law, Article 489, which provides for prison sentences of six months to three years for anyone who “commits lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.”
Earlier this month, the Morocco World News reported:
Aswat posted a communiqué on its Facebook page criticizing what they called “the continuous arrest of people because of their sexual orientations.”
“There are certainly arrests and trials taking place in secret without the public knowing about them,” says the Aswat communiqué.
The group said that two people (a Moroccan and a Senegalese) were sentenced to four and eight months in prison and were fined 500 dirhams and 1,000 dirhams respectively on February 26 in Marrakech.
A year ago, Al-Akhbar reported on Aswat’s campaign against Article 489:
Moroccan civil society activists have called for homosexuality to be decriminalized in a video posted on the Internet ahead of the international day against homophobia on May 17.
In the video, part of the campaign “Love Is Not a Crime” launched by the group Aswat (“Voice” in Arabic), six civil society activists appealed against homophobia.
“People have the right to make their choice, to do what they want with their bodies as long as they don’t harm others,” said the writer Abdallah Bida.
Earlier this month, Aswat made a new push for repeal of that law in a manifesto signed by 50 Moroccan human rights activists, feminist activists, journalists, academics, writers, and others.
The campaign’s goals are for Morocco:
- To stop imprisoning and persecuting Moroccan citizens over their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
- To revoke article 489 of the current Penal Code punishing « six months to three years of imprisonment and a fine of 200 to 1,000 DH, unless the fact constitutes a more serious offense, anyone who commits an indecent act or act against nature with an individual of the same sex.”
- To abolish article 489 of the new Penal Code project, which punishes « six months to three years of imprisonment and a fine of 2000 to 20,000 DH, unless the fact constitutes a more serious offense, anyone who commits an indecent act or act against nature with an individual of the same sex.”
- To amend article 431-1 of the current Penal Code, which discrimination as “any distinction made between persons on ground of national or social origin, color, sex, family status, health status, disability, political opinions, trade union memberships, membership or non-membership, real or supposed, to an ethnic group, nation, race, or religion” by adding the concepts of discrimination on the grounds of gender and sexuality.
- Morocco jails three for homosexuality (dailystar.com.lb)
- Video seeks relief for harassed LGBT Moroccans (76crimes.com)
- Morocco: Amid LGBT rights campaign, prison for 6 (76crimes.com)
- Morocco: Two Sentenced on Homosexuality Charge (hrw.org)
- Morocco upholds 6 prison terms for disputed gay acts (76crimes.com)
- Al Hoceima, Morocco: Jail time reduced (76crimes.com)
- Ray Cole: my time in a Moroccan jail for being gay was ‘hell on earth’ – video (The Guardian)
- Archive of this blog’s articles on Morocco