LGBT rights in Morocco

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Morocco (orthographic projection).svg
Morocco and claimed territories
Penalty6 months to 3 years imprisonment, fine[1]
Gender identityNo
Discrimination protectionsNone
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex unions

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Morocco face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Morocco.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Article 489 of the Penal Code of Morocco criminalises "lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex".[2] Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Morocco and can be punished with anything from six months to three years' imprisonment and a fine of 120 to 1,200 dirhams.[3][4] The Moroccan government uses the law as a way to police members of the LGBT+ community. When one is arrested in Morocco for a suspected homosexual act, their name becomes publicized outing the individual regardless as to whether they are homosexual or not.[5] However, the law is sporadically enforced by the authorities,[4] with a degree of tolerance extended to homosexuality in the holiday resorts like Marrakesh.[4] The legal status of LGBT people living in Morocco stems largely from traditional Islamic morality, which views homosexuality and cross dressing as signs of immorality.[6]

In 2016, two girls were arrested in Marrakesh after one's cousin took a photo of them kissing. This sparked international outcry and the use of the hashtag #freethegirls. Their case was postponed until December 2016.[7] In early December 2016, the two girls were acquitted.[8]

In May 2019, in the evaluation by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the partnership with the Moroccan Parliament in the framework of the Partnership for Democracy Status, the parliamentary assembly called the Moroccan Parliament to stop enforcing the "criminal law provisions criminalising homosexual relations or relations between two persons of the opposite-sex do not have a marriage union." until its repeal.[9][10][11]

Government policy[edit]

None of the major or minor political parties have made public statements in favor of LGBT-rights and no LGBT rights legislation has been enacted. Government attitudes towards homosexuality tend to be in the interests of the protection of the tradition of the country, in keeping with the culture's traditional gender roles and religious mores. It has banned books on homosexuality and required schools to teach a curriculum that "emphasises...the danger and depravity of "unnatural acts".[12] Moreover, on 21 March 2008, a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior revealed the full and wide scope of the government's agenda: to "preserve citizens' ethics and defend our society against all irresponsible actions that mar our identity and culture".[13]

In terms of foreign policy, the government opposed the participation of an International Gay and Lesbian Rights Representative at the 2001 United Nations Conference on AIDS-HIV. They also opposed a United Nations joint statement condemning violence against LGBT people.[4]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

There is no legal recognition of same-sex couples.

Discrimination protections[edit]

There is no law against discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in Morocco.

Gender identity and expression[edit]

Traditional cultural and religious mores tend to associate cross-dressing with homosexuality. Culturally, certain forms of cross-dressing have been tolerated in areas where women were not a part. The initial lack of female actors meant that the roles often went to men, who were generally assumed to be homosexual, but were shown a modicum of tolerance.

In the 1950s, the publicity surrounding Coccinelle helped to establish Casablanca as being a place where certain doctors were willing to perform sex change operations, albeit in clandestine circumstances.[14]

Today, it is unclear whether this reputation still exists or what the current government policy is for transgender people. A Morocco transwoman named Randa did reportedly publish a book, although little is known about its contents or commercial success.[15]

Living conditions[edit]

Moroccan public opinion towards the LGBT community are generally negative, in alignment with attitudes about LGBT rights in much of the Muslim world. The country has a male-dominated culture, a patriarchial society with traditional gender roles, that prefers a male and a female to get married and have children.[14] The government continues enforcing in a laid back fashion, the laws on homosexuality with several public arrests.

A court in Ksar el-Kebir, a small city about 120 kilometres south of Tangier, convicted six men on 10 December 2007 of violating article 489 of Morocco’s penal code. However, according to the defendants' lawyers, the prosecution failed to present any evidence that the men actually had engaged in the prohibited conduct.[16]

The men were sentenced to varying terms on 17 December 2007, after a video circulated online—including on YouTube—purporting to show a private party, allegedly including the men, taking place in Ksar el-Kebir on 18 November. Press reports claimed the party was a "gay marriage." Following the arrests, dozens of men and women marched through the streets of Ksar el-Kebir, denouncing the men's alleged actions and calling for their punishment.[2]

In 2010, the government permitted openly gay singer Elton John to give a performance during the Mawazine Festival, despite objections from the Justice and Development Party, which was, at the time, the biggest opposition party in parliament.[17] The festival was condoned by King Mohammed VI and was a part of the king's plans to create a more open and modern nation.[17]

Abdellah Taïa and Rachid O., both successful writers, have written openly about gender roles and sexual identity in Morocco, but they do not reside in Morocco. Beyond these writers, the government has tolerated the existence of one magazine for the gay community as well as one gay rights organization.

The LGBT publication Mithly has been allowed to be discreetly distributed to adults in Morocco, although the government still will not grant the publication a distribution license and the magazine itself has to be made in neighboring Spain.[15] In a similar sense, the government will not officially recognize the LGBT rights organization, Kif-Kif, but has allowed it to exist and co-sponsor some educational seminars.[15]

In 2017, following the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Mustafa Ramid, former Minister of Justice and Liberties in Abdelilah Benkirane's and Saadeddine Othmani's governments has called homosexuals “trash” in an interview. This was criticised by local human rights associations which together signed a petition addressed to the Prime Minister of Morocco Othmani to open an investigation with Minister Ramid “on his discriminatory and unconstitutional statements towards sexual minorities.”[18][19][20]

Advocacy for LGBT rights[edit]

Kif-Kif is the only organization to advocate on behalf of the LGBT community in Morocco and publishes the Mithly magazine in Spain. Established in 2004, it has not been given legal recognition by the Department of the Interior, but it has been unofficially permitted to organize certain educational seminars.[15][21] Hajar Moutaouakil, a young Moroccan lesbian, posted a video on YouTube on human rights day calling for love and tolerance, but the video created controversy. She later posted her biography online.

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Penalty: Fine and up to 3 years' imprisonment)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No (Illegal for all couples regardless of sexual orientation)[22]
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

Further reading[edit]

  • Adolescent Reproductive Health in Morocco: Status, Issues, Policies, and Programs by Julia Beamish and Lina Tazi Abderrazik. [3]
  • Audacity in Adversity: LGBT Activism in the Middle East and North Africa.[4]
  • Homosexuality in Morocco: Between cultural influences and life experience by Imane Kendili, Soumia Berrada, and Nadia Kadiri
  • Human Rights Council, Resolution 27/32: Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, A/HRC/RES/27/32, 2 October 2014 [5]
  • Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Morocco: The treatment of homosexuals, including protection offered by the state and the attitude of the population, 5 March 2007. 8 May 2019.[6]
  • “Love is Not a Crime”: Goals of the Gay Movement in Morocco by Bella Pori and Professor Paul Martin. [7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ottosson, Daniel (May 2008). "State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults" (PDF). International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). p. 25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Web Page Under Construction". Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  3. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld | Morocco: The treatment of homosexuals, including protection offered by the state and the attitude of the population". UNHCR. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d [1] Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Pori, Bella (10 May 2015). ""Love is Not a Crime": Goals of the Gay Movement in Morocco". Human Rights Independent Study: 9.
  6. ^ [2] Archived 29 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Schmidt, Samantha (4 November 2016). "2 teenage girls in Morocco could face up to 3 years in prison for kissing each other" – via
  8. ^ France-Presse, Agence (9 December 2016). "Morocco judge acquits girls accused of homosexuality". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  9. ^ "مجلس أوربا يطالب المغرب بإلغاء تجريم الجنسية المثلية". (in Arabic). 31 May 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  10. ^ "نقاش مجتمعى لإباحة المثلية والعلاقات الجنسية خارج إطار الزواج فى المغرب". اليوم السابع. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  11. ^ "مجلس أوروبا يدعو المغرب إلى إلغاء تجريم المثلية والعلاقات الرضائية". (in Arabic). Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  12. ^ Beamish, Julia (January 2003). "Adolescent Reproductive Health in Morocco: Status, Issues, Policies, and Programs" (PDF): 4. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ "Moroccan authorities clamp down on homosexuality". Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  14. ^ a b "The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Morocco". Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  15. ^ a b c d Reuters in Rabat and David Smith in Johannesburg (20 May 2010). "Gay magazine launched in Morocco | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  16. ^ "Morocco: Overturn Verdicts for Homosexual Conduct". Human Rights Watch. 11 December 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  17. ^ a b "". Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  18. ^ "Mustapha Ramid, the Human Rights Minister Who Doesn't Like Gays   | Morocco World News". Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  19. ^ "الرميد يثير الانتقاد بعد وصف المثليين بـ"الأوساخ"". Hespress (in Arabic). Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  20. ^ "Morocco's Civil Rights Minister: "Gay People Are Trash"". Il Grande Colibrì. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Gay seminar stirs outrage in Morocco". 19 March 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2012.


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