If Ramid’s statements sparked the outrage of many local NGOs and a part of the public opinion, his latest response is very far from soothing the tension, referring to homosexuality as a “perversion” that “disgusts the public opinion.”
The original incident occurred on September 28, when Ramid was walking out of an official meeting at Rabat’s library. The minister was stopped by a journalist who asked him about the condition of homosexuals in Morocco. The minister’s reaction was immediate: “Why are you asking me about [homosexuality] too?” he asked.
Trying to dismiss the journalist, Ramid kept repeating, “This is too much. Too much. It’s a shame that homosexuality has a value now. Why is everyone asking me about it?”
Upon the insistence of the journalist, Ramid will finally gave in. “Listen, we are in Morocco, if we keep talking about [homosexuality] we will give them value. [They’re] trash.” The minister used the insulting Arabic term “Awsakh,” which can be translated as “trash,” “scum,” or “vermin.”
Ramid’s statement sparked the outrage of many NGOs and human rights associations that addressed a petition to the head of government compelling him to take action against Ramid. On social media, the outlash was even fiercer, with many internet users not shying away from accusing Ramid of homophobia and hate speech against a sexual minority.
Under the media and public pressure, Ramid decided to come out with a response.
For the minister in charge of human rights, his comments on homosexuality were based on “the kingdom’s constitution and its laws and the international conventions it has signed,” as well as the “national consensus,” which “only the perverts deviate from.”
Based on this legal and social framework, Ramid writes that “sexual perversion [referring to homosexuality] stays a crime punishable by the Moroccan legislation, and one that disgusts the public opinion.”
“And let everyone know that the Moroccan government has made its position clear in its response to the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, as it categorically and unequivocally refuses to decriminalize sexual perversion [referring to homosexuality]. But at the same time, [it] refuses any kind of discrimination against any citizen, no matter their conditions,” Ramid continues.
“If I have said that sexual perversion [referring to homosexuality] is filth or obscenity, it is only to describe certain actions and behaviors, and the terms do not necessarily apply to people no matter their orientation may be.”
For Ramid, “it is clear then, that those who opposed me were blinded by their disagreement and drunken with their hatred.”
Aziz Idamine, head of the Moroccan Rights and Freedoms Youth Center, told Morocco World News that Ramid’s use of these “degrading terms against a minority in Morocco is nothing new to the vocabulary of the minister; he already called journalists ‘traitors’ once and described human rights activists as ‘hateful’.”
Idamine has three remarks to deliver about the minister’s response. The first, is that “Ramid thinks that being a minister of state of all Moroccans is the same thing as being the leader of a small community or political party.”
Second, Ramid’s “insistence on using the term ‘trash’ to describe a Moroccan minority, whether we adhere to the latter or not, proves how saturated the minister is by a narrow and close-minded interpretation of Islamic thought.
Idamine goes on to explain that “what the minister is wording through his statement are readings and interpretations of the Islamic texts and the constitution through the political perspective of the Justice and Development Party, and not those agreed upon by all Moroccans.”
Finally, Idamine believes that Ramid is overstepping his jurisdiction. “The exegesis of a religious text is the specialty of Morocco’s High Council of Religious Affairs, [and] as for the explanation and interpretation of the constitution, it falls under the mandate of the constitutional court.”
“As for the international conventions Moroccan had signed and agreed upon,” continues Idamine, “it is publically known that the human rights movements in Morocco are seeking to reform the penal code in several areas, to abolish any violation of individual freedoms.”
For the activist, “the minister has every right to hold on onto the legal jurisdiction that criminalize homosexuality, but he has absolutely no right to call homosexuals ‘trash’.”