For those of us who enjoy the benefits of living in a (relatively) liberal and progressive society, at least in the judicial sense, it’s hard to believe there are still countries that openly punish homosexuality.
Unfortunately, the story of two young girls from Morocco who face jail for kissing in public brings the plight of the global LGBTQi community into stark perspective.
The unnamed girls – aged 16 and 17 – are due to appear in court on Friday for the alleged public display of physical affection, which occurred on the rooftop of a private residence in Marrakech last week.
Article 489 of the Moroccan Penal Code states:
Any person who ‘commits a lewd and unnatural act’ with an individual of the same sex may be sentenced to six months to three years of imprisonment.
To read this rhetoric – referring to homosexuality as ‘lewd’ or ‘unnatural’ – is appalling in any circumstance but to read it in a country’s legal code is downright scary.
The girls involved in the alleged incident have been release on bail and wait trial. Meanwhile, outrage has spread and activists are calling for Article 489 to be abolished.
Omar Arbib, an activist at the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (MAHR), told CNN that the girls were photographed and the image was sent to the family who informed the police, resulting in their arrest on the same day.
LGBTQi rights activist and co-founder of The Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (MALI), Ibtissame Lachgar, explained Morocco’s systematic and institutionalised homophobia.
Our thoughts are with the LGBTQi community in Morocco at this sad and difficult time and offer our solidarity with the two young girls who were simply expressing love, which in any guise, is a beautiful thing.
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