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Grindr witch-hunt sparks fresh call to make gay sex legal in Morocco

Grindr witch-hunt sparks fresh call to make gay sex legal in Morocco

  • Moroccans are trying to find emergency housing for gay and bi men who have been outed.
Naofal Moussa on Instagram.

Morocco is facing fresh demands to decriminalize gay sex after women started outing gay and bi men using dating apps.

As GSN reported last week, a Moroccan expat living in Turkey called Naofal Moussa or Sofia Talouni sparked the crisis. She is a social media influencer and went on Instagram Live to tell Moroccan women about Grindr, PlanetRomeo and other apps.

She told women to use fake photos of men to catfish men using the gay dating and hook-up apps. And speaking in Moroccan Arabic, Moussa said (translated):

‘These apps will show you the people who are near to you. 100 meters, 200 meters, even just one meter, just next to you in the living room.

‘Since everyone is together at home, it could show you your husband in your bedroom, it could show you your son who might be in the bathroom.’

Moussa didn’t explicitly tell people to use what they found out to publicly out men. But LGBT+ people in Morocco say the catfishers have put their photos and details online.

The result has been a campaign of online harassment. And many LGBT+ Moroccans are now living in fear that their family will discover their sexuality.

Meanwhile they risk being kicked out of home by relatives or landlords, losing their job and being ostracized by their neighbors.

Repeal anti-LGBT+ laws that fuel the harassment

Now Human Rights Watch has demanded Morocco change the law to decriminalize same-sex relationships.

Likewise LGBT+ organizations in north Africa have also made the same demand. They are led by Association Akaliyat which published a public statement on Facebook signed by other LGBT+ and human rights organizations in the country.

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Morocco. Under Article 489 of the Penal Code offenders face anything from six months to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 1,000 dirhams (US$104).

Graeme Reid is LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch. He said:

‘The consequences of “outing” can be detrimental to LGBT people’s livelihoods, safety, and mental health.

‘The Moroccan authorities should immediately step in to protect LGBT people’s privacy and repeal anti-LGBT laws that can only fuel this homophobic behavior.’

Reid added: ‘The onus is on the Moroccan government to protect LGBT people from this type of homophobic harassment and from all forms of discrimination.

‘Homophobia is a dangerous reality, but it thrives when the government criminalizes same-sex conduct and fails to shield their rights to privacy and equal treatment.’

Human Rights Watch says Morocco should not only repeal Article 489 and make gay sex legal. They also want the government to bring in anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT+ Moroccans.

However, Morocco has previously refused to decriminalize.

In October last year, the state-appointed National Human Rights Council recommended decriminalization. And more than 25 nongovernmental organizations expressed support. But the government refused to act.

Catfishers could face jail too

However the people taking part in the dating app witch-hunt are also breaking the law and could face prison too.

Morocco’s constitution guarantees the right to privacy. It is illegal to distribute private conversations and offenders could face six months to three years jail.

Moreover, officials may be prepared to take action.

On Friday (24 April), the Moroccan national security told Agence France Presse that the police have opened a ‘preliminary investigation’ for ‘incitement to hatred and discrimination’.

This appears to show they are investigating people publishing private photos and details of LGBT people online.

Forced to live on the street

Meanwhile LGBT+ Moroccans continue to suffer the results of the outing campaign.

A 23-year-old gay university student told Human Rights Watch that his brother found out about him and kicked him out of the house.

He said: ‘I have been sleeping on the street for three days and I have nowhere to go. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, not even my close friends are able to host me.’

Morocco’s Feminist Union (UFL) has urged Moroccans in danger to contact them on their hotline 0801 002929. They also want to hear from Moroccans who can provide safe temporary housing to the victims.

Meanwhile both Grindr and PlanetRomeo have warned Moroccan users about the security problem. And Instagram has removed Moussa’s original video.