Saturday, 31 July 2010

Moroccans petition for sodomy law abolition


A group of gay and lesbian Moroccan citizens, with the support of their parents and friends, has launched an online petition demanding the repeal of article 489 of the Moroccan Penal Code, and that the country ensure the social, economic and political right to express their sexual orientation freely of Moroccan gay and lesbians.

Article 489 of the Penal Code of Morocco criminalizes “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.". Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco and can be punished with anything from 6 months to 3 years imprisonment and a fine of 120 to 1200 dirhams.

The Morrocan Government has banned books on homosexuality, introduced a teaching curriculum that "emphasises...the danger and depravity of "unatural acts" and opposed the participation of an International Gay and Lesbian Rights Representative at the 2001 United Nations Conference on AIDS.

In 2007 a court in Ksar-el-Kebir, a small city about 120 kilometers south of Tangiers, convicted 6 men of violating article 489 after a video circulated online — including on YouTube — purporting to show a private party. Following the arrests, hundreds of men and women marched through the streets of Ksar el-Kbir, denouncing the men’s alleged actions and calling for their punishment.

The group say that Article 489 is used not just to criminalize homosexuality but "encourage the public to homophobia". The online magazine Kifkif says that the petition seeks to collect ten thousand signatures, to be sent to all Moroccan political officials to urge them to abolish article 489.

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