International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission Calls on Morocco to Stop Persecuting Individuals based on Claims of Homosexuality

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) today called on Moroccan authorities to immediately release two men on trial for alleged homosexual acts.

For Immediate Release

June 18, 2015

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-430-6018, strimel@iglhrc or
Hossein Alizadeh, 212-430-6016 halizadeh@iglhrc.org

(New York) - The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) today called on Moroccan authorities to immediately release two men on trial for alleged homosexual acts.

The two men, identified by their first names, Lahcen and Mohsine, were arrested by the Moroccan police on June 3 while posing for photos in a public square. If found guilty, they can be sentenced to up to three years in jail, based on Article 489 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which criminalizes "abnormal sexual acts with a person of the same sex."

"The arrest and trial of these two young men demonstrates how Article 489 of the Moroccan Penal Code is used by the authorities to intimidate individuals based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression" said Hossein Alizadeh, the Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator for IGLHRC. "We urge the Moroccan authorities to immediately release these men and take concrete steps to protect the rights of all individuals. We also urge the Moroccan government to repeal all criminal law provisions, such as Article 489, that go against Morocco's international human rights obligations."

The first session of the trial was held on Friday June 12 and the second session on June 16. Before trial, the men allegedly confessed to having engaged in consensual same-sex sexual acts, according to the police report. However, during the trial, their lawyers said the confession was obtained by police under duress and without access to legal counsel, making it inadmissible. Prior to the trial, the authorities also published the photo and the identity of the men, violating their rights to privacy and presumption of innocence. Their lawyers also drew attention to the fact that their images aired on national TV and both showed signs of having been beaten with bruises evident. The lawyers requested a medical examination to determine whether the men were tortured and suffered physical duress during the police investigation.

"It is unacceptable and counter to both Moroccan and international legal standards, that defendants are kept in police custody based on a confession seemingly extracted under pressure," said Alizadeh. "Instead of investing time to investigate a non-existing crime, the authorities should immediately look into the much more credible allegations of police abuse and violations of privacy."

The third court session is scheduled to take place on June 19. The lawyers' request for bail for the defendants was declined and the two men have remained in custody.

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1 Article 489 of the Moroccan 1963 Penal Code states, "Whoever commits abnormal sexual acts with a person of the same sex shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of 6 months to 3 years and a fine from 120 to 1000 Dirhams, unless the act is a more serious offense."

The full text of the Penal Code is available in Arabic on the website of the Moroccan Ministry of Justice:
http://adala.justice.gov.ma/AR/DocumentViewer.aspx?id=77323.htm