A judge has declared an alleged same-sex couple who were arrested in Morocco for kissing are innocent.
Sanaa and Hajar, 16 and 17, were seen kissing on the roof of a house near Marrakesh and were arrested on 27 October.
They faced between six months and three years of jail under Morocco’s law that criminalizes homosexuality.
Reports claimed the Sanaa had invited Hajar, who is homeless, into the house in Daoudiate. They kissed but were filmed by Sanaa’s cousin, who then showed it to the girl’s mother.
The mother then alerted the police, saying she ‘refused to see her daughter being associated in the act with the other 17-year-old girl’.
Sanaa and Hajar claim they were ‘forced to sign’ their confessions, according to a statement of defense reported by Human Rights Watch, and described their relationship as ‘friendly’.
In a closed court, the judge ruled the girls were innocent and ‘they must be dealt with by their families’.
Omar Arbib, of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, described the arrest as ‘arbitrary’ and an ‘error’.
Morocco has seen several arrests of gay people across the country, with the most high profile case being in Beni Mellal.
In March, a mob caught a gay couple having sex and brutally assaulted the two of them. The couple were then arrested for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality while the attackers went free. A video of the attack went viral online.
Later in June, a young gay couple were jailed for having sex in their car.
Human rights organizations are attempting to repeal the law that criminalizes homosexuality and free the people who are in jail for gay sex.
Those charged under article 489 of the Penal Code face sentences ranging from three months to six years in prison and a fine of up to MAD 1,200 ($125, €110).