Two men will be jailed for four months after they kissed in public, an act the government of Morocco called an “unnatural act” and an “affront to public decency.”
The men’s defense attorney will appeal the sentence, Agence France-Presse reported.
In Morocco, homosexual activity is against the law and anyone caught engaging in it can expect to spend up to three years in jail. Just last week, three men were given the maximum when they were caught together, Gay Star News reported.
That two more men have now been arrested, jailed, and sentenced for one simple kiss is stoking the fire of protest in this conservative nation. One such protest against these discriminatory laws was recently made by feminist group Femen, very publicly in front of Hassan Tower in Rabat.
The women were arrested on June 3 after they bared their chests, wrote “in gay we trust” across their stomachs, and shared a kiss. Both were expelled from Morocco that evening. The next day, 1,500 people gathered outside the French embassy to protest Femen.
But Lahcen, 38, and Mohsine, 25, made their own statement — they shared a kiss outside that same tower in a sign of solidarity with the feminists, and were caught in the act. They were arrested and jailed on June 5. Ever since, their case has exploded on social media and Morocco’s strict laws have been vehemently criticized. A petition inspired 70,000 signatures prior to their trial and conviction. They were sentenced Friday.
Last week, a magazine called Maroc Hebdo chose as its front cover an image of a same sex couple at a swimming pool, looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, with the poorly chosen headline — “Should we burn gays?” Criticism led the magazine to withdraw the edition, but said debate on homosexual rights has to consider “moral and religious values.”
Meanwhile, a note of support seemed to come from another publication, this one French-langauge Tel Quel, in which an editorial was published that stated, “Homosexuals are not deviant nor sick. Consensual love between two adults is not a crime.”
The government likely won’t listen. According to BuzzFeed, various local news organizations and a LGBT rights group called Aswat Collective have reported that 20 gay and trans people have been jailed in a different Moroccan city.
Between the four-month sentence for one simple kiss and ongoing arrests, Aswat has stated that authorities “reaffirm their position through this campaign of oppression and arrests targeting homosexuals, while the country is having an intense debate relative to the decriminalization of homosexuality.”
The group believes the government is making an example of Lahcen and Mohsine as it faces accusations that foreign activities are encouraging homosexuality in the country.
[Photo Courtesy Twitter]