Human Rights Watch Moroccan Government Should End the Criminalization of Homosexuality

Casablanca – Morocco’s Islam-based penal code punishes those convicted of the crime of “homosexuality” with six months to three years in jail, a sentence that Human Rights Watch (HRW) says cannot be tolerated. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the discrimination against homosexuals “violates fundamental human rights protected by international law.”The organization’s position that Morocco should end the criminalization of homosexuality is based on the fact that Morocco is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). HRW stated that the Moroccan Constitution is committed to “prohibiting and combating discrimination against anyone on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity … or any personal circumstances whatsoever.” In May 2014, six Moroccans convicted of committing homosexual acts were sentenced to up to three years in prison and were expelled from their hometowns.However, their sentences were reduced last week by an appellate court, which reduced the prison terms of the six defendants and revoked their banishment.The American non-governmental organization (NGO) also raised questions about “procedural fairness” in the appeal. “The Court of Appeal did not call any witnesses to the bar and did not consider any other evidence, and at the hearing all the accuseds denied being gay,” said HRW.On July 2, HRW urged Morocco to “stop prosecuting people for homosexuality.”“If Morocco aspires to become a regional leader in the field of human rights, it should take the initiative to abolish some of its laws that discriminate against same-gender sexual relationships,” said Sarah Leah Whiston, director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.Being homosexual not only has legal implications but is both culturally and socially taboo in Morocco. For this reason, most gays and lesbians do not “come out” due to the fear of physical reprisals.In addition, under Article 489 of the Moroccan Penal Code, homosexual acts are punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine ranging from 120 to 1200 dirhams.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more