By David Hazelwood
By David Hazelwood
Rabat – Day after day I continue to read about human rights cases happening in Morocco. Moreover, I am reading about Moroccans violating other Moroccans, Muslims violating other Muslims. Just yesterday I read an article about a couple being arrested on May 27 after being dragged from their home and severely beaten by a mob due to their sexual orientation. The same such incident happened in Beni Mellal just two months ago.
The fact is we all have a sexual orientation and a gender identity, and this shared fact means that discrimination against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, is an issue that affects all of us.
All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy their human rights. Across Morocco, there remain many instances where an individuals’ sexual orientation or gender identity can lead them to face imprisonment, violence or discrimination.
Homosexuality in Morocco is illegal under article 489 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.” Those charged under Moroccan Article 489 of the Penal Code face a sentence of imprisonment ranging from three months to six years and a fine of up to MAD 1,200.
People detained or imprisoned solely because of their homosexuality or for their gender identity are considered to be prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.
It is important for Moroccans – and others – to learn to accept others. Not only is this morally right, it is a development necessity. Morocco and Moroccans cannot develop and prosper as a country and a people if they do not have respect for human rights.
Citizens of Morocco must call for the decriminalization of homosexuality where such legislation remains, including a review of all legislation which could result in the discrimination, prosecution and punishment of people solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity. All such laws should be repealed or amended. The refusal of governments to address violence committed against LGBT people creates a culture of impunity where such abuses can continue.
David Hazelwood is an author and human rights activist. He is an American expat living in Morocco.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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