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Opening Closed Doors: Are You LGBTQI+ and Moroccan? Take Part in Our Survey!

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

This guest blog was written by Azaro, one of our new Human Rights Researchers, who is Moroccan.

The legal situation for LGBTQI+ people:

Morocco Is a North African country, ruled by a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system [1]. The nation state was colonised by France in the central belt of the country, and Spain in the north and south of Morocco. However, French colonialism had the most impact, including the impact of these laws today [2],

Morocco criminalises consensual same-sex relations between adults under the Penal Code number 489; which states the following:

“Any person who commits lewd acts or acts against nature together with an individual of the same sex is liable to a penalty of imprisonment ranging from six months to three years and a fine ranging from 200 to 1,000 Moroccan dirhams unless the circumstances of the offense do not constitute an aggravating factor” [3]. aligns with 489,

Law 483 of the Penal Code, which criminalises acts of public indecency, with imprisonment of one month to two years, including a fine:

“Anyone who, by his state of voluntary nudity or the obscenity of his gestures or his actions, commits a public outrage to modesty is punishable by imprisonment for a month to two years and a fine of 200 to 500 dirhams” [4].

This law is mainly used to criminalise people with non-heteronormative ways of expression and behaviour. However, Morocco also criminalises other aspects of the sexual activity of its citizens through laws 490 and 491, which criminalise sex work and sex workers.

Although open-source data about how many people have been arrested by these laws is rare, Human Dignity Trust suggests that more than 5,000 individuals may have been arrested for alleged homosexuality since the country gained independence from Spain in 1956. Data suggests there were 81 trials in 2011, between 4 and 15 in 2015, 20 in 2016 [5] and most recently (by the Office of the Prosecutor General’s statistics for 2019), suggesting that 122 people were prosecuted for same-sex sexual activity [6].

Moroccan society and LGBTQI+ people:

Despite the criminalisation that appeared in the legal system during the colonial era, LGBTQI+ people in Morocco have significantly imprinted in Moroccan popular and oral culture, ranging from musical rhythms and poems, to literature and cultural ceremonies. There has always been an abundance of queer influence in history, however, society is never static, it is always dynamic. After independence, Morocco saw the further establishment of laws which criminalise same-sex relations, acts, expressions, and bodies,

Today, LGBTQI+ people live in a hostile social environment. In fact, a survey of 400 LGBTQI+ Moroccans, issued by the Collective Against Criminalization and Discrimination Against Sexual and Religious Minorities, reported that 100% of the studied population agreed they deplored the current conditions that LGBTQI+ people face, also hihglighting the insufficiency of the social support available to them [7]. Additionally, 70% of the survey population stated that they have experienced violence based on their sexual orientation [8]. Furthermore, the Moroccan Institute for Political Analysis, in their Annual Trust Index Report, stated that 88% of Moroccans are distrustful of homosexuals, with only 4% fully trusting them [9].

Due to this, the LGBTQI+ community seek safe spaces, which are usually found in bars, nightclubs, riads, and some safe spaces known only within the community. LGBTQI+ people increasingly use the internet as an alternative space, to feel connected and included [10], though this comes with risks.

The Moroccan LGBTQI+ community is not silent about the situation that they face. Many people in our community are engaged in organising, collectives, or groups working together to decolonize our history, reproduce knowledge. We do this through working on the accessibility of information, education, research, deconstruction of dialect and language to make it inclusive, promoting self-defence techniques, and many more approaches. Despite the hostile environment and unjust laws, we strongly believe in the power of being united.

What are ReportOUT doing to support Moroccan LGBTQI+ organisations?

ReportOUT work with partner organisations on the ground. It is part of our development-led approach in doing research with and not research on, LGBTQI+ communities. We are currently working with a few partner organisations with influence and a presence in Morocco, such as Alwan and The Moroccan LGBT Community.

This research project will examine the true extent of the human rights issues faced by LGBTQI+ Moroccans through an in-depth country research profile. This project will be a powerful tool used to advocate for the rights of LGBTQI+ Moroccans in the region. Read more about it and get involved, below.

We have recently been joined by a new partner, Ishtar MENA Analytics, who were founded in may 2022 by graduates Gabriele and Damien from SOAS and King's College. Ever since its inception, it has not only served as a think tank focusing on various socio-political issues of the Middle East and North Africa, but also as a network and exchange platform for young academics. Ishtar MENA Analytics regularly publishes political analyses and assists charities and clients with their expertise. They joined the OUT in Morocco project in July 2022, alongside our other partner organisations

As Gabriele, one of the Co-Founders of Ishtar MENA says:

"Evidence based decision making is imperative to push for political change. I can not stress enough the importance of qualitative and quantitative research methods to support our work. This is why your experience and your input is detrimental. For how else could we point out problems and advocate for improvement, if we don't know how you are?"

Ishtar's Co-Founder, Damien, states the importance of taking part in our research:

"Advocacy always and necessarily starts with a critical and honest evaluation of the status quo. How are we going to affect change, if we don't understand how it works? By participating in this survey, you are providing researchers, activists, and human rights advocates with the tools to fight for change - and ultimately for a better, safer, and more inclusive environment for us all!"

Moroccan and LGBTQI+? Get involved in our survey:

We welcome all LGBTQI+ Moroccans to take part in our partner research study, whether you live in Morocco, or outside of the country, your opinions matter to us. Our survey is strictly anonymous, so if you are LGBTQI+ and Moroccan, please take part in our survey by clicking here.


Bibliography [1] 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Morocco: [2] Danish Immigration services, Morocco, the Situation of LGBT persons: [3] Ibid. [4] ICEMC, Morocco National registration: [5] ILGA World: Kellyn Botha, our identities under arrest: A global overview on the enforcement of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults and diverse gender expressions (Geneva: ILGA, December 2021): [6] 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Morocco: [7] Study Shows Morocco’s LGBTQ Community Wants to Engage in Politics: [8] Ibid. [9] Trust Index 2022: Trust in Public Administration during the Era of Pandemic, Moroccan Institute for Political Analysis: [10] Analyzing Alternative Spaces: Queer Social Networks and Notions of Belonging in Morocco, Adam Griffin:

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