Rabat – After Minister of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid called homosexuals “trash” in an interview last September, Moroccan human rights associations have addressed a petition to Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani compelling him to take action against Ramid.
The incident further highlights the government’s controversial and contradictory stance on homosexuality.
Walking out of an official meeting at Rabat’s library on September 28 with straight posture and a grim face, Ramid was stopped by a journalist who asked him about the condition of homosexuals in Morocco.
At once, his body language metamorphosed into disinterest and dismay, and his response was pregnant with disrespect.
“Why are you asking me about [homosexuality] too?” he asked. With a sarcastic look and hands weaving left and right, he continued “This is too much. Too much. It’s a shame that homosexuality has a value now. Why is everyone asking me about it?”
“Take this [microphone] out of my face,” he told the journalist who refused.
Ramid, caught in a crowd, found no alternative but to continue talking before rushing out.
“Listen, we are in Morocco, if we keep talking about [homosexuality] we will give them value. [They’re] trash.”
Homosexuals Are Not Trash: Human Rights Associations
His commentary was not well-received by local human rights associations. Together, they signed a petition addressed to the Head of the Government El Othmani on October 11 to open an investigation with Minister Ramid “ on his discriminatory and unconstitutional statements towards sexual minorities.”
“We consider the description of Moroccan citizens as ‘trash’ a blatant violation of the Moroccan constitution, which stresses the commitment of Morocco to human rights as they are internationally recognized,” the petition reads.
“It is shameful and disgraceful for a human rights minister to label a class of Moroccans as trash.”
The petition also called “the institutions of the state to open another investigation with Ramid and transmit it to the government,” inviting the Head of Government [Saad Eddine El Othmani] to “exercise his political powers towards the hate speech of human rights minister.”
Aswat, a Rabat-based association for the defense of sexual minorities, shares the anger but says that singling out Ramid is not the solution.
“Ramid should not be penalized, otherwise fingers will be pointed only on one person. We can not hold him responsible for hate speech that is heard everywhere in Morocco. The policies themselves and the normalization of discrimination must change,” says a founder of Aswat.
However, Hakim Sikouk, an activist and mediator of the petition, disagrees. “He should be penalized for his actions by the Prime Minister and King Mohammed VI. This [discrimination based on sexuality] has happened so recurrently,” referring to past cases of violence against homosexuals.
Sikouk sees that “the petition is merely symbolic,” recalling that human rights associations have addressed four previous petitions to the government concerning similar cases, without receiving any response.
“Morocco and Ramid must progress as the world is progressing in terms of human rights.”
Ramid: Should I Punish Myself?
Just last month, during his participation in the session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ramid already revealed his position towards homosexuals to be broad and contradictory.
While he stated that Morocco accepted United Nations’ recommendation to “take urgent measures to repeal the norms that criminalize and stigmatize lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons,” he rejected to repeal legislation, in particular article 489 of the Criminal Code, criminalizing consensual sexual conduct between same-sex adults.
Among the accepted UN recommendations, he stated Morocco’s willingness “to investigate and punish the perpetrators of acts of discrimination and violence against them,” which exactly what the civil society petitioners have requested him to do regarding his statements in the video.