Two Men Arrested in Marrakech for Homosexuality

Casablanca — The red city again makes the news for homosexuality-related arrests.A 70-year-old Spanish man and a Moroccan citizen in his 20s were arrested on Thursday, November 24, on charges of homosexuality. The men were caught laying in the same hotel bed by a cleaning lady, who immediately notified hotel management, which then contacted the police, reports AlYaoum24.According to the Aswat Collective, a Moroccan organization fighting for human rights, the Spanish national was released while the Moroccan man still remains in custody of local authorities. In regards to the case, Omar Arbib, member of Marrakech’s Moroccan Association for Human Rights, told HuffPost that “this kind of arrest needs to stop in Morocco.” “It’s not normal. These are two adults who should be allowed to exercise their independence, but Moroccan law states that they risk up to three years in prison,” adds Arbib.In Morocco, homosexuality is punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine of up to 1200 dirhams. Last month, a similar case was widely publicized. Two girls, Hajar and Sanae, aged 16 and 17, were reported to the police after a family friend had seen them kissing on a Marrakech terrace. After a few days of detention, they were granted temporary release on November 1. The two minors are set to receive their verdict tomorrow.Hajar and Sanae’s arrest got a lot of attention from Moroccan and international media. Leïla Slimani, the French-Moroccan writer who was recently awarded the prestigious literary prize, the ‘Prix Goncourt,’ publicly spoke out earlier this month against the girls’ arrest. In an interview on the French TV show, “C à Vous,” Slimani stated that Article 489 “takes away the dignity of citizens and contributes to their humiliation.”The United Nations Human Rights Committee has urged Morocco to decriminalize homosexuality, as reported earlier this month. Nevertheless, given the controversy of the issue in the majority-Muslim country, it is unlikely that the law will change anytime soon. read more