A war of words has erupted over what was to be the first ever visit by an all-gay cruise to a majority Muslim country, with cruise organisers claiming Moroccan officials would not let them dock in Casablanca.
Cruise organiser RSVP Vacations told over two thousand holidaymakers onboard the Holland-America Line’s MS Nieuw Amsterdam that their July 1 visit to Casablanca would not go ahead.
‘Our port agent in Casablanca has advised us that authorities in Morocco have, despite previous confirmations, now denied our scheduled visit,’ RSVP Vacations and Holland-America Line said in a joint statement.
‘For all of us, this is a very disappointing development … It was ultimately the decision by local authorities in Morocco that has necessitated us to adjust our plans.’
However the country’s Ministry of Tourism has denied the claims.
Morocco’s Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad told news media that the government did not ban cruise ships from visiting the country and did not make inquiries into the sexual preferences of tourists.
He said the cruise ship was still welcome to return if it wanted to.
Morocco has laws on its books criminalizing sex between men with jail sentences of between six months and three years and fines but the laws are rarely enforced.