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Six Moroccan Men Jailed For Homosexuality

Article 489 of the Moroccan penal code punishes homosexuality with up to three years in prison, and now six young men may be facing that full sentence after the father of one of them called the police on the whole group, accusing the other five of "coercing" his son into deviant acts. So, Anita Bryant's vile "recruitment" allegations in a fez.

MoroccoThey were also arrested on charges of public drunkenness and prostitution, the latter of which is often tacked on due to the mistaken belief that money is the only motivator for gay sex, not pleasure or love.

Said Khadija Riyadi, a member and former president of The Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH),

There is a lot of hypocrisy here. They know that pre-marital sex is very common here. They know there are openly operating [brothels] and that police even profit from that. And we still sometimes arrest people for sexual crimes. It’s hypocrisy[...]The authorities generally from what I see let the foreigners do what they want when they are gay. It happens [that they are arrested too], but generally they are indulgent.

Last year a Spanish pedophile was released from jail which sparked a protest of thousands, and last fall a girl committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, a marriage which likely ocurred because it exonerates the rapist from his crime under Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code. Perhaps Morocco isn't the best country to be legislating on sex crimes.


French Court Overrules Restrictions on Gay Binational Couples, Says Franco-Moroccan Couple Can Marry

A French court on Tuesday ruled against the nation's ban on binational marriages involving 11 countries, AFP reports:

MoroccoFrance legalised same-sex marriage in May after months of intense and sometimes violent protests, and the couple -- Dominique and Mohammed -- immediately got to work planning their official union for September in the town of Jacob-Bellecombette in the Alps.

But just two days before the wedding, prosecutors in the nearby city of Chambery ruled it could not go ahead.

They cited a government circular stating that nationals from 11 countries, including Morocco (inset), Poland and Laos, were not allowed to marry people of the same sex in France.

All 11 ban gay marriage and had signed agreements with France whereby a citizens in a binational couple must obey his or her own nation's marriage law.

A Chambery court ruled against that agreement this week:

That court pointed to a clause in the agreement with Morocco that exempts France from having to comply with Morocco's national marriage laws if they are "obviously incompatible with public order." An appeal lodged by prosecutors was rejected on Tuesday, a decision that could create a precedent and allow gay citizens of the 11 countries concerned to tie the knot in France.


Morocco's First Out Gay Writer Abdellah Taïa Speaks Out

Taia

In 2009, Abdellah Taïa wrote to his family two years after he became the first Moroccan writer to come out as gay in an interview with the Moroccan magazine Telquel. As the journal Asymptote notes, "Morocco's biggest-selling newspaper denounced him, and many of the country's bloggers decried him, saying he should be stoned."

Wrote Taïa in 'Homosexuality Explained to My Mother':

I know I am scandalous. To you. And to those around you: neighbors, colleagues, friends, mothers-in-law... I know to what degree I'm involuntarily causing you harm, giving you worry. I expose myself by signing my real first name and my real last name. And I expose you along with me. I drag you along on this adventure, which is just the beginning for me and for people like me: To exist, finally! To come out of the shadows, head held high! To tell the truth, my truth! To be: Abdellah. To be: Taïa. To be both. Alone. Yet not alone at the same time.

Beyond my homosexuality, which I proudly claim, I know that what surprises and scares you is that I elude you: I am the same, thin as I've always been, with the same eternal baby face; yet I am no longer the same. You no longer recognize me, and you tell yourselves: "Where does he get those bizarre ideas? Where does he get the nerve? We didn't raise him like that... And not only does he talk about sexuality publicly—no, no, that's not enough for him—he also talks of homosexuality, politics, freedom... Who does he take himself for?"

Taïa's 2009 essay excerpted above has been published in English translation for the first time HERE by Asymptote, which also has an interview with him HERE.

(photo jeremy stigter / asymptote)


Gay Cruisers Either Are Or Are Not Welcome In Casablanca

NA1(1)Passengers onboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam for an all-gay Mediterranean cruise will not be making their scheduled stop today in Casablanca. Why's that? Because, according to trip organizers RSVP Vacations and cruise company Holland America, "local authorities" in Casablanca have revoked the ship's permission to dock, presumably because she's full of gays.

The Moroccan tourist ministry denies everything. From Reuters:

Morocco's Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad said no official decision had been made to prevent the ship from stopping in Morocco.

"We don't ban cruise ships here and we never ask our visitors about their sexual preferences," he told Reuters. Asked if the MS Nieuw Amsterdam could still visit Morocco, he said: "They can if the organisers want to".

While the tourism ministry may be unruffled by the private sexual lives of day-tripping cruisers, Reuters notes that the same cannot be said of the Moroccan media. Apparently, several news outlets last week reported nervously on the imminent arrival of the MS Nieuw Amsterdam and her fabulous human cargo, and it seems conceivable that cruise organizers may have become worried about their passengers' safety. (In Morocco, homosexuality is punishable by up to three years in prison.) 

The MS Nieuw Amsterdam set out on Friday from Barcelona. On her week-long gay cruise, Casablanca was to be her only non-European port of call.  


'A Boy To Be Sacrificed'

ABDELLAH-TAÏAIt's unusual and wonderful for the words of the writer Abdellah Taia to show up in an English-language publication, as they did in this morning's New York Times. It's also a little nervous-making. To read Taia is, very often, to be heartbroken.

That's the case today. In "A Boy To Be Sacrificed," Taia describes the experience of growing up in early-80s Morocco, captive to an unwitting effeminacy -- "something in the way I moved my hands, my inflections. A way of walking, my carriage. An easy intimacy with women, my mother and my many sisters" -- which set him apart from his community, and made him an outcast even as a child:

By the time I was 10, though no one spoke of it, I knew what happened to boys like me in our impoverished society; they were designated victims, to be used, with everyone’s blessing, as easy sexual objects by frustrated men. And I knew that no one would save me — not even my parents, who surely loved me. For them too, I was shame, filth.

Taia proceeds to describe the night the frightened child he was gave way to the rather Cynical (though seldom "cynical") man he became -- a night when a group of drunk men gathered outside his home, rather like the Sodomites of Genesis, and demanded that Taia be released to them for their pleasure. He was 12 or 13 years old at the time:

I was far, then ... from understanding that the problem wasn’t me. I was simply afraid. Very afraid. And I hoped my big brother, my hero, would rise and answer them. That he would protect me, at least with words. I didn’t want him to fight them — no. All I wanted him to say were these few little words: “Go away! Leave my little brother alone.”

But my brother, the absolute monarch of our family, did nothing.

Taia ultimately made it to Sweden, and then to France, where he studied at the Sorbonne. He lives in France still.


Texting While Muslim

Picture 16Those who toil in competetive industries often discuss their work using hyperbolic language. (Recall Mitt Romney's recent promise to bloody the nose of President Obama, and Newt Gingrich's subsequent promise to not just bloody the First Schnoz, but to knock the President unconscious.)

Well -- if you're a Muslim, hold your tongue. According to the AFP, a Muslim businessman in Canada was recently arrested and briefly imprisoned after authorities intercepted a text message in which he told his sales staff to "blow away" the competition at a New York trade show.

From the AFP:

Moroccan-born Saad Allami, who works as a telecommunications company sales manager, was arrested three days after he sent the message in January 2011 and detained while police searched his home, said the Muslim Council of Montreal.

"The whole time, the officers kept repeating to the plaintiff's wife that her husband was a terrorist," said court filings in a lawsuit filed by Allami, cited by local media. Allami was released after four hours of questioning.

Mr. Allami's colleagues were reportedly detained at the border en route to New York.

Mr. Allami's not taking this treatment lying down. He's not seeking over $100,000 in damages from the Quebec provincial police. His day in the Quebec Superior Court arrives in early March.


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