Gay Morocco News & Reports 2009-10

Also see:
Behind the Mask
LGBT African website

Love, Sex and Religion–Murder in Muslim Morocco

Also see:
More information about Islam & Homosexuality
Queer Muslim magazines: Huriyah, Barra

Gay Islam discussion groups:
Muslim Gay Men     LGBT muslim
Queer Jihad           Bi-muslims
Trans-muslims       Lesbian muslims

00 Interview with Abdellah Taia 1/09

1 Gay seminar stirs outrage in Morocco 3/09

1a Morocco Announces End To Gay Tolerance 3/09

2 Moroccan authorities clamp down on homosexuality 3/09

3 Morocco’s gays come out of the shadows 3/09

4 Gay seminar stirs outrage in Morocco 3/09

5 "The law has no right to interfere in what people get up to in bed" 4/09

6 Stories of Moroccan Gay Men (book published 2008) 4/09

7 Gay Moroccan writer takes on homophobia 5/09

8 Rabat meetings explore role of cinema in human rights 11/09

9 New magazine braves risks to give voice to Arab homosexuals 4/10

10 Elton John to perform at Mawazine festival despite protests 3/10

11 First gay magazine launched in Morocco 5/10

12 Sir Elton’s Moroccan concert a success 5/10

13 Gay magazine ‘Mithly’ debuts in Morocco 5/10

14 Moroccan Queers Observe National LGBT Day 10/10

January 2009 –

Interview with Abdellah Taia
– The Moroccan writer Abdellah Taia talks about his book, Salvation Army.

by Brian Whitaker in Paris
Your book, L’Armée du Salut (“Salvation Army”), is shortly going to be published in English in the United States. How did that come about?

I think it started in June 2007. Hédi El-Kholti, from the American publisher Semiotext(e), was in Morocco when Tel Quel (it’s like Time or Newsweek) put me on the cover of their magazine with the title: “Homosexuel envers et contre tous”. When he went back to America he contacted my French publisher, Le Seuil, and bought the rights to translate the book into English. Salvation Army received the 2009 French Voices prize in America. In order to attract more attention for the book we asked the American writer Edmund White to write a preface. He said yes. And I am very happy for that because I like him and admire his work.

L’Armée du Salut is officially my first novel. In France one is considered to be a writer only when one publishes a novel. To write short stories or a book of short texts is like a hobby – it’s not really serious. When Le Seuil became my publisher – before that I was published by Séguier – they told me to write a novel. So I said OK and I chose three moments from my life and I wrote a novel, not in a classical way, because I don’t think my books are classical in the French sense, or even in an Anglo-Saxon style – until now everything I have written and published is fragments of my life …

But there is a story there too …
Of course. There’s a link between the three fragments, which is transformation: my own transformation. The transformation of my body, but also of me as a person, discovering myself and becoming aware of who I am and the sexual contradictions I have inside me. And, at the same time, to talk about me – to speak, to say something coming from inside myself.

The first part of the novel is about my early life, with my family in the small house – three rooms – where I lived in Morocco in the town of Salé. One room for my six sisters, my mother, my little brother and me. The other room was for my big brother and the last one for my father. What I try to show is what it’s like being in the middle of this group and being influenced by the bodies of these people that I was so close to. I was attracted to some of them but of course there were barriers which I couldn’t cross.

I am still aware of those barriers but every day I try exploring/exploding them. The barriers are of course mostly sexual. The first part of the novel is about the origin, not only of my sexuality, but the sexuality of my entire family. The way my parents used to have sex influenced my whole family because my mother used to sleep with us in the children’s room and, once a week, went to have sex with my father or my father used to join us in our room and tried to seduce her. So I witnessed all these sexual strategies at work and, as children, we knew everything. They knew we knew and they behaved as if we didn’t know. So there was a kind of primal atmosphere inside the house. It was as if tradition, religion, Islam – all these things so important in the Arab world – didn’t exist.

We were in the kingdom of bodies. It was only bodies because we were so close that there was no other space. No privacy. I didn’t think of it at the time, but that is how it was. You don’t think you need some room for yourself. I never thought of that either at the time. A body is something alive which reveals many signals and one relates to those. And it’s very sexual. It’s not sexual in the sense of “having sex” but the whole atmosphere, the vibes … Next to my brothers and sisters I saw and experienced many things, exciting and frightening things.

And you developed these feelings towards your big brother.
This is the second part of the book. My older brother was the king of the family, not my father. My father was a fallen king. My big brother was the king, a silent king, because he hardly spoke. He was the first child and after him there were six girls and then I was born. I was the other boy my parents were waiting for. But I definitely was not the sort of boy they were hoping for.

You say this kind of thing was taboo but in the book I don’t find any sense of guilt about your feelings.
No. Even today I feel no guilt. I had some periods of guilt but deep down there was always this feeling of "c’est naturel" – yes, I was aware that these feelings were forbidden but at the same time I just did nothing to avoid them. My brother, Abdelkébir, was always bigger than me. I have no image of him as a child or adolescent. He had a moustache and a room filled with books. Beautiful books and recordings of music – David Bowie, Oum Kalthoum and Woodstock. He loved Woodstock. Later he got a TV and a video player, he bought us the fridge and gave us money to make the house bigger …

What was his job?
He was a good student and after that he became haut fonctionnaire – an important government official. He became mayor of a small town and later he worked with the minister of information. He became more important year after year.

But at first he was still poor like us, he was for us. We were all proud of him. I was fascinated by him. His room was big but there was only a small bed and he used to put me with him in bed – and sometimes my little brother as well. Not in a sexual way at all – just this closeness. Being so close to the body of your big brother, it makes you feel something – well, at least it did for me. It made me proud to be his little brother. So he quickly became a sort of role model for me. I wanted to be like him, I wanted to read like him, to read his books, to see the movies he loved. He also used to give me his clothes, his shirts, his underwear, when they were old. I wore them happily even though they were too big for me.

Besides the intellectual thing, I wanted to be with him, in his presence – the smell of him, the way he was, the way he walked, and how he ate. He used to eat more meat than the rest of family. We were all OK with that. I think I wasn’t the only one in the family to be sort of in love with him. Of course I knew he was my brother but what could I do? Maybe the fact that he was my brother makes it more … more exciting. The idea of transgression – I think I learned that from being with him: you are attracted to someone you can’t have and at the same time you don’t care about other people’s reactions or religion or traditions. I understood somehow that all those rules were invented by humans, but not by me. I’m not obliged to respect them – traditions, religion…

Your feelings towards your brother started with admiration but became over time more sexual, I think …
I don’t know. This started so early on that it’s confused in my mind. The admiration came with the movies because he was the one who took me to see films and he was the one who had movie magazines. This element is very important. He showed me the direction to follow: cinema.

But at some point a sexual element came into the attraction as well?
Yes. For instance, I wrote in the book that twice a week I used to help him to wash his hair. Just a little boy putting water on his big brother’s head and forgetting that that man is his brother. I wanted to do so many things with him, to touch his neck, to play with his hair, to dry him, to kiss the clean skin of his hands . . .

Has he read L’Armée du Salut?
Yes, I think so. In my second book, Le Rouge du Tarbouche, there is a story about “l’unique miroir” – we had only one small mirror in the house, so everyone used it. Me, my father to shave, my big brother… And when I became adolescent I used to take this mirror into my brother’s room and look at myself and masturbate surrounded by his things and thinking of him. I even imagined I was him. So he read Le Rouge du Tarbouche and he told my mother to tell me to stop writing this … this nonsense. He’s not the kind of person you can have a real conversation with.

So, when I think of it, of course he is not OK with what I write in my books. It’s not a problem for me. I understood several years ago that I should not ask permission from anyone about my writing or my projects or my plans, because in Morocco no one would understand … They all know better than you – your life, what you should do… Even now, here in Paris, I don’t tell anyone what I do. I don’t ask anyone’s advice, because even among groups of friends here in Paris it’s always the same question of power and control.

The second transformation in the book comes when your big brother takes you and your little brother on a trip to Tangiers. But your feelings towards him are suddenly jolted when you discover the real purpose of the trip: that he’s planning to get married.
It was my first and only holiday in Morocco. We were all staying in the same cheap hotel room so I was able to see what he was like 24 hours a day, for an entire week. The beginning of this vacation was like a dream. But when it became clear that he was attracted to this girl and that he was going to abandon us to see her, I was overcome by violent jealousy and even became cruel! Of course, I’m aware of the craziness of the situation but what could I do? I still remember clearly how he came and told us about her and his plans to marry her … I still remember how angry I was with him, I even invented a plan to ruin his project.

So this second part of the novel is also about paradise (to have my big brother only for me) and hell, which is represented by the moment when you lose someone … This vacation in Tangiers was the end of an era, a revolution. I lost my big brother and my role model whom I was in love with. This loss was overwhelming … He had the books, he had David Bowie. Years after that I understood who David Bowie was and I said “Wow!” If my brother used to like David Bowie – especially at that time in the seventies – it meant that somehow he was open-minded. Of course, I adore David Bowie.

And the third big moment is when you travel to Switzerland to continue your studies and the man who you think is your friend, who has promised to meet you at the airport and provide somewhere to stay, is not there to meet you and is not answering his phone. This is the last transformation, when I leave this Moroccan world at the age of 25 for western civilisation in Geneva, and experience this first deception, this disappointment. I had dreamed for years and years about western civilisation – and from the very beginning there was betrayal. I discovered that the books and films were only part of the reality of this European dream which wasn’t at all welcoming at first.

From the moment of my arrival in Geneva, it was as if I had to start all over again – another transformation was necessary. I had left the Moroccan world where the group mentality was dominating and crushing me to come to Geneva where suddenly I felt completely alone and sensed that life would be like this from now on.

It’s a very big contrast from the collective society of Morocco – all these people packed into small houses – and your isolation. It’s a very bleak scene.
Yes, because the friend of this man I met in Morocco who was supposed to meet me at the airport was not there and suddenly I found myself on the streets. I had no money and I had to find some place to stay. So after wandering around for awhile, I talked to a taxi driver who told me there was a Salvation Army refuge not far from the train station. This last part of the book is about the passage from dream to reality. Even though I didn’t understand it at the time, this betrayal was a new beginning.

How do you think this book fits in with other – shall we say – gay literature? In the way it presents homosexuality, for example?
It’s a melancholic book, it doesn’t give an optimistic or positive view of homosexuality. But it was never my idea to give a positive view. I never think of it in terms of positive or negative. In Morocco, when I discovered that I was homosexual, men always expected me to behave like an effeminate boy, doing the female role. So I stopped seeing them immediately. I was 13 at the time and living the tumultuous feelings of adolescence. I stopped seeing those people and entered another period of my life. All was completely silent and filled only with studying and movies because as a homosexual I knew that Moroccan society would only destroy me.

I knew for sure that I was homosexual and would never be able to do what they wanted me to do – to marry a woman for instance. So my only choice was to avoid those boys who knew about me and with whom I had played sexual games as a child. Even though I still lived at home, I couldn’t speak to anyone about myself and for years and years I had no sex, from the ages of 13 to 22. I had to make all my own decisions. Those years of silence were very difficult but at the same time it was the beginning of my big dream: to become a film-maker. The homosexual in me, and this desire to be creative or to write something – they both go together. But neither were accepted.

So in a way it was not positive at all …I have to confess though, that this isolation gave me the possibility of developing a certain way of viewing society – seeing how it works, what to say, what not to say, and allowed me to analyse things. I also remember a lot of suffering and crying all the time, but somehow I was not traumatised by the experience. Maybe it’s my nature and psychology … I can easily analyse how Moroccan society functions, how it deals with sexuality, but I still have … I don’t know, I don’t reject this Moroccan society.

I’m thinking also about the portrayals of homosexuality in Switzerland, which seems to me realistic without trying to be positive or negative. The scene in the public toilet for example …

… with the orange …

It’s curious because it’s fairly positive in some ways …

I think this passage also comes from the French writer Jean Genet (I adore him) because he talks a lot about casual sex in his books, and somehow Genet influenced me on that. I am very fascinated by public toilets – they always seem to be full of desire…

It’s not a shocking scene in the way it’s described.
I hope not.

No it’s not, which in a way is quite surprising, particularly coming from an Arab writer.
I am an Arab but for many things I’m not like an Arab at all. I’m not only coming from Islam, not only from Arabic society, there is this homme primaire – a primal man – inside of me who is still alive. The incident in the toilet shows this part of myself. It also shows my own idea of homosexuality, this possibility of meeting strangers and the possibility of poetry. For most people a public toilet is just dirty, but still … there is this possibility of poetry between two people who don’t know each other at all, just for a moment of pleasure. But it’s not only about pleasure or sex, it’s always more than that – at least for me.

When people think about homosexuals they tend to see only two people of the same sex. But, for me, to be homosexual is also the way you relate to someone whose body is like yours. You belong to the same sex and there are no rules – you invent rules. It’s because homosexuality is forbidden, not seen in a positive way by many people. It doesn’t mean these rules will always be the same when you meet someone. This is what I like, this inversion: condemnation and prison become freedom. For me there is no specific sexual role, top or bottom – there is invention.

A lot of people do see it in terms of male/female roles.
Yes, but it’s not for me. Maybe that’s why I’m always disappointed! The scene in the public toilet is about that inversion, especially when the man gave me an orange. The orange represents Morocco. That’s what I mean about inversion. Even in dirty places something beautiful and poetic can happen.

As far as I’m aware, you’re the only Moroccan to have come out publicly and talked about your homosexuality in the media. How did that happen?
My second book, Le Rouge du Tarbouche, became successful in Morocco in 2005 and I was invited to appear on TV etc, etc. One of the journalists from Tel Quel had read the book thoroughly and saw that one of the themes was homosexuality. She saw that I was talking freely about homosexuality.

Subsequently she interviewed me in the Café de France in Casablanca. She asked me: “Why did you choose this cafe for the interview?” I told her that four or five months previously I had been here with a friend of mine – a French photographer – and we had been working on an article for Paris Match. A boy came in and introduced himself to my friend and they instantly fell in love. I had witnessed something incredibly beautiful. His name was Said, he was from Tangiers and he was spending the weekend in Casablanca. After I finished the anecdote, she asked: "So you don’t mind if we talk only about homosexuality in the paper?"

Well, of course I was a little bit afraid, afraid for two or three seconds, because I knew what I was about to do. But I told myself I had already talked about this in my books. I didn’t want to keep up the hypocrisy and schizophrenia like other Moroccans and Arabs. I had to go along with my own truth.

So I said yes and we talked about homosexuality. We analysed how Moroccan society tries to make us shameful about ourselves in general by forcing people into submission all the time. She wrote an article about that, and it was published while I was in Morocco. I was doing a promotional tour for the book, Le Rouge du Tarbouche, at the time. I was in Tangiers. But I was still afraid when I read the article. I was staying in a hotel and I was really scared. I told myself: “This is Morocco, there are secret police and they are one of the best in the world, they say, after the Mossad in Israel and if they want to get to me it’s easy.” In the middle of the night I put chairs and a table against the door of my hotel room, just in case…

I don’t think that would have stopped them.
Of course not, but it’s more about the fear inside.

After the article was published, another magazine asked me for an interview in Arabic, and that’s where the problems started with my family. My sister discovered the magazine on her desk at work. Somebody had put it there anonymously – which is how Moroccan society functions. Even if you want to be yourself all the time there is always someone to stop you. So they put the magazine – open, with my interview, on her desk where she works in administration. Of course, she was upset. She told my mother and my mother called me. It was in May 2006 and she said: "What did you say? We are not like this … we are good people."

I didn’t have an answer except to say that it’s not only about me, it’s also about Moroccan society. This was the only defence I could find. What was more interesting in her reaction was that she never condemned me on the phone. She never said "You’re not my son any more." No.

My sister had read the whole interview for her because my mother is illiterate, and one of the questions was: "What do you think of gay marriage?" I answered that I don’t like marriage at all, hetero or gay, and I explained why, that the whole image I have of marriage in Morocco is disastrous. For me marriage just destroys individuals – you have one family, then when you marry, you have two families controlling you. I said I would never get married. Everyone is free to do what they want. But personally, I am against marriage.

My mother was more shocked by this than the gay thing, I think because homosexuality doesn’t represent very much in her mind, but not to be married does represent something. Knowing that I’m not going to be married – it was unbelievable for her, it was inconceivable. So, in the end, and this is really what I like about some people in Morocco, before she hung up she said she was praying for me, she said: “I only want a good life for you.” After that call, I think I cried for two weeks because it was the point of no return. I was completely naked.

How do you feel about that?
In the beginning I felt guilt, maybe for two or three days, because the consequences of my lifestyle are not only for me but for my family. But after a few days I realised that no one called me to ask me how I was, how I had managed to live all these years with the fact that I am homosexual … No one cared. I realised that, again, it was about them, about their names and reputations, not about me. It was about what my sister’s colleagues would say, what the neighbours would say.

And, I remembered Douglas Sirk’s masterpiece film, All Heaven Allows, and how he shows that society tries to destroy the love between the characters played by Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. So, during those two weeks of feeling completely naked, I bought the DVD of this film and watched it several times, maybe ten times. And it helped me a lot to become strong again. To be free without tears. Again: cinema saved me as it did when I was a child and had no place to go and cry, except the cheap movie theatres in my poor town, Salé.

Of course, I understand that my family in Morocco can’t speak about homosexuality but I thought, still, I am their son and they know that I’m not someone bad. Until now, no one [in my family] has spoken about it. And I realise that I may have caused a scandal for them but there are always scandals in Morocco. In two weeks’ time they had forgotten. I wasn’t doing this for my family, it was much bigger than that.

These articles started a buzz and it changed my status from “the new hip Moroccan writer” to the “new hip gay Moroccan writer”. At first people were talking only about the books and after that they were talking the books and homosexuality. One year later the magazine Tel Quel put me on the cover with the word “homosexual” in big letters and the recounted the whole story. They came and interviewed me. I knew that they were going to put me on the cover. I did it because it was necessary to speak out. Just to name things, for some people, is dangerous – it’s revolutionary. But I can’t be explaining this all the time because it gets tiring. I just have to move along – to go in the way I choose. If some people are OK with that, fine. And if they’re not, that’s fine too. But it’s not only about me. That is what is important.

So if it’s not only about you, what is it really about?
Other people. You understand this very quickly when you publish books, because you get some response. It’s not only about homosexuality – it’s about individual freedom. The feelings you are expressing, the words you are putting in your books. A lot of people relate to that and it becomes like a mission for you. Morocco is changing. A lot of taboos are being broken one after another, and that’s why I’m saying it’s not only my revolution, it’s also a revolution in Morocco and the Arab world. That’s why I continue to write. To be part of this revolution with literary arms.

21 March 2009 – LGBT asylum news

Gay seminar stirs outrage in Morocco

Outrage swept across Morocco following a gay association’s announcement of a planned seminar on sexual problems. The seminar entitled "Gender and Sexuality," is set to be held in April and will tackle sensitive issues that people are too shy to discuss for religious and social reasons, said Mariam Benebodallah, media spokesperson for the Moroccan homosexual association Kif Kif. "The seminar will host experts and lecturers who will present their points of view about how Moroccans can develop their sex life," she told"We will tackle the issues at the seminar with extreme caution, and we are not trying to provoke anyone."

Foreign Support Blamed
Moroccan observers said it was unlikely that Moroccan authorities would allow the association to hold such activities and blamed foreign support. Moroccan sex researcher Hassan Serrat said Moroccan homosexuals are a small group and cannot organize such activities on their own.
"They are definitely getting foreign support especially from British and Spanish gay rights associations," he told

Serrat pointed out that Spanish homosexual associations were outraged at the gay arrests that took place four years ago in the northern Moroccan city of Tetouan and a year ago in the northwestern city of al-Qasr al-Kabir. "It seems the International Lesbian and Gay Association delegated the homosexuals of Spain to defend those of Morocco," Serrat said. Kif Kif’s spokesperson, however, denied all allegations that the association receives foreign funding and stressed that Moroccan law grants them the right of assembly.

An ongoing battle
Serrat insisted there is an ongoing battle between Moroccan authorities and the association, especially since homosexuals have been attempting to infiltrate Moroccan culture. "The religious background of Moroccans and their knowledge of the curse of homosexuality has made that hard for them," he said.
He claimed the association managed to gain access to the media when a Moroccan state television show hosted a gay writer and when al-Sabah newspaper interviewed the association’s coordinator.

Serrat added that Moroccan authorities are in a very awkward situation since they are torn between European pressure and Morocco’s conservative community. However, Serrat said he expected that the authorities to ban all homosexual activities since they tarnish the image of Muslim Morocco. "How can Morocco severe ties with Iran in defense of the Sunni faith then overlook homosexuality," he said.

Dr. Mustapha Ben Hamza, chairman of a local council, said it is very unlikely that the authorities will allow such a seminar to take place. Hamza argued that the seminar announcement was just propaganda as part of homosexuals’ attempts to be integrated into Moroccan society. "They will never be accepted in Moroccan society," he concluded.

2009 March 24 –

Morocco Announces End To Gay Tolerance

(ANSAmed) – Madrid – Morocco announces the end of tolerance with regard to homosexuality, is the title of the full page article in today’s El Pais, referring to the initiative which the Ministry for the interior in Morocco is using to ‘confront all actions which go against religious and moral values, within the framework of the law”. An article with the headline in red on the front page of magazine Al Michaal triggered the reaction by the government in Rabat; in it a gay Moroccan couple tell the story of their wedding, reciting a prayer which comes before the reading from the Koran. The formula is very common in Morocco, between heterosexual couples as well, but it does not mean that the union is legal.

In a message quoted by El Pais, the Ministry for the interior registered "voices in the media which are trying to make a case for ignoble behaviour which is a provocation to national public opinion and which are against the moral values and teachings of our society". The government will carry act against these people "within the framework of current laws". Homosexuality is punishable in Morocco from six months to three years imprisonment, even though courts do not usually pass sentences for this kind of crime. Nevertheless arrests of gays are commonly made as a ‘deterrent”. El Pais notes that "while several publications are indulgent towards Moroccan gays, the main body of the press is asking for a strong hand against perverts". Spain’s ambassador in Rabat, Luis Planas, recently became involved in the controversy, when he was photographed with the secretary of Colegas, a Spanish association which defends the rights of gays and lesbians, and with Bargachi, the coordinator of Kifkif (from equal to equal), an association which supports gays in Morocco. (ANSAmed).

2009 March 26 – Magharebia

Moroccan authorities clamp down on homosexuality

by Imane Belhaj
Moroccan authorities want to strictly confront all practices and suppress all brochures, books and publications that seek to undermine the country’s religious and ethical values.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Interior on March 21st revealed the full scope of the government’s agenda: to "preserve citizens’ ethics and defend our society against all irresponsible actions that mar our identity and culture".

The state’s initiative reportedly comes in response to recent articles in the press calling for greater tolerance of homosexuality. The source: a press release by Samir Berkashi, co-ordinator of "Kif Kif", an association that defends the interests of homosexuals. Berkashi affirmed that his association receives support from political parties, human rights associations, and foreign diplomatic missions in Morocco, noting that homosexuals are everywhere in the fields of media, civil society, and politics in Morocco.

Kif Kif "operates in Morocco through an intermediary association recognised by law," he explained, since it "cannot publicly operate in Morocco, as long as laws continue to prohibit homosexuality." In an unexpected and unprecedented step for gay rights activists, the head of Kif Kif plans to hold a press conference on April 15th in Marrakech. Berkashi, however, denied the controversial news published by the Arabic language As Sabah newspaper concerning his interview with French-language Aujourd’hui Le Maroc.

"Lately, voices were heard from media platforms seeking to promote some forms of disgraceful behaviour, thus provoking national public opinion, and disregarding our ethical and religious values in society," stated the report from the Interior Ministry. When asked, people on the street reacted differently to the issue of homosexuality, ranging from acceptance to rejection. "Homosexuality should be viewed within the context of respecting human rights and diversity," said civil servant Khaled Daoui.

Others had entirely different views. "It is prohibited in our religion and our traditions. God has forbidden such sins," exclaimed Soumia Tazi, a teacher. "Homosexuality is copied from Western movies, TV shows, and porn channels that promote such practices, and which are, in turn, adversely reflected on younger generations who follow suit, unaware of the consequences," added university student Mohamed Zahi.

Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco, and is punishable by "imprisonment for six months to three years and a fine of 200 to 1,200 dirhams". "The report of the Ministry of Interior involves some sort of a threat and a curbing of freedom of expression, as it constitutes an infringement on personal freedom," Khadija Radi, head of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, told Magharebia. "Much of it is subject to interpretation, since it does not exclusively deal with homosexuals, but includes other things as well," Radi added, referring to the State’s recently declared battle against the spread of Shi’ism.

As for Kif Kif, one member who refused to disclose his name told Magharebia that the group "will not give in to the threats of the state, and will pursue its activities while respecting the law, personal freedom, and human rights". On Thursday (March 26th), Berkashi told the Spanish press that the Moroccan government had not attempted to prevent him from holding his April 15th press conference. However, Berkashi added, were the authorities to issue a ban, he would comply with the decision.

26 March 2009 – The Observers

Morocco’s gays come out of the shadows

Going against the advice of the authorities, a Moroccan association is organising a conference on homosexuality in Marrakesh.

Moroccan society might be on the move, but the government is finding it hard to follow. In February a French feminist NGO called Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores Nor Submissive) was banned from setting up a branch in the country, causing outrage amongst activists. Today, it’s a homosexual association that’s in trouble. Members of "Kifkif" (which literally means "lovelove" in both Arabic and in French slang), are attempting to get homosexuality recognised in Moroccan society. The organisation, based in Spain, is planning a conference in Marrakesh on April 15. In response, the minister of the interior has sworn to fight all acts which "aim to undermine our religious and moral values", adding that the authorities and the police will be on watch to repress any "demonstration of an immoral nature".

Kifkif however plans to go ahead with the conference… even if it has to take place behind closed doors.

Update (27 March 09 – 4pm Paris time): The Kifkif website has been hacked. The homepage has been replaced by verses from the Koran, accompanied with a photo of a mass hanging. The message in Arabic: "Do this kind of thing and expect to be castigated by god".

Comments and More

March 29, 2009 –

Gay seminar stirs outrage in Morocco

by Rabat (Hassan al-Ashraf)
Outrage swept across Morocco following a gay association’s announcement of a planned seminar on sexual problems.
The seminar entitled "Gender and Sexuality," is set to be held in April and will tackle sensitive issues that people are too shy to discuss for religious and social reasons, said Mariam Benebodallah, media spokesperson for the Moroccan homosexual association Kif Kif.

"The seminar will host experts and lecturers who will present their points of view about how Moroccans can develop their sex life," she told"We will tackle the issues at the seminar with extreme caution, and we are not trying to provoke anyone."

Foreign Support Blamed
Moroccan observers said it was unlikely that Moroccan authorities would allow the association to hold such activities and blamed foreign support. Moroccan sex researcher Hassan Serrat said Moroccan homosexuals are a small group and cannot organize such activities on their own.
"They are definitely getting foreign support especially from British and Spanish gay rights associations," he told

Serrat pointed out that Spanish homosexual associations were outraged at the gay arrests that took place four years ago in the northern Moroccan city of Tetouan and a year ago in the northwestern city of al-Qasr al-Kabir. "It seems the International Lesbian and Gay Association delegated the homosexuals of Spain to defend those of Morocco," Serrat said. Kif Kif’s spokesperson, however, denied all allegations that the association receives foreign funding and stressed that Moroccan law grants them the right of assembly.

An ongoing battle
Serrat insisted there is an ongoing battle between Moroccan authorities and the association, especially since homosexuals have been attempting to infiltrate Moroccan culture. "The religious background of Moroccans and their knowledge of the curse of homosexuality has made that hard for them," he said.

He claimed the association managed to gain access to the media when a Moroccan state television show hosted a gay writer and when al-Sabah newspaper interviewed the association’s coordinator. Serrat added that Moroccan authorities are in a very awkward situation since they are torn between European pressure and Morocco’s conservative community.

However, Serrat said he expected that the authorities to ban all homosexual activities since they tarnish the image of Muslim Morocco. "How can Morocco severe ties with Iran in defense of the Sunni faith then overlook homosexuality," he said.

Dr. Mustapha Ben Hamza, chairman of a local council, said it is very unlikely that the authorities will allow such a seminar to take place. Hamza argued that the seminar announcement was just propaganda as part of homosexuals’ attempts to be integrated into Moroccan society. "They will never be accepted in Moroccan society," he concluded.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

15 April 2009 – The Observers

"The law has no right to interfere in what people get up to in bed"

Samir Barkachi is a member of the Kifkif association.

"Our association is prohibited by Moroccan law on the grounds of sexual tendencies. So in Morocco we’re specifically working on subjects linked to sexuality – our aim is to increase public awareness of the subject. Law 489 prevents us from doing more; it condemns homosexuality. It’s a dangerous law that was put in place by France. We’re demanding it be revised. The law has no right to interfere with what people get up to in bed.

We currently have 50 active members of Kifkif in Morocco and 500 abroad. In Morocco, even tolerant people don’t like the idea of being involved with a gay association. Our Marrakesh meeting on April 15 aims to change this pejorative attitude towards homosexuality. It’s a small meeting but we aim to make ourselves heard. We’re going to talk about sex – in Morocco there’s no sex education.

The choice of city comes down to accessibility – there’s an international airport in Marrakesh. For now the location of the meeting has to be kept secret for security reasons. All I can say is that it will be in a private residence. It’s not Islam that’s the problem. Islam is a very tolerant religion. I’m a believer and there are many gay Muslims in Morocco. Even some religious figures are gay. Personally, I ask myself how god, who made me gay, could punish me for what he himself gave me. I didn’t choose to be gay."

Gays in Islam
Submitted by Jay Butlerson (not verified) on Sun, 29/03/2009 – 18:28.

One of your commentors states, as we so often hear it said, that "Islam is a tolerant religion" but where is the proof of that tiresome statement? There is no religious freedom in any Muslim country that I am aware of. Muslims are not allowed to convert to other religions of even to renounce Islam on the pain of death or prison. Non-Muslims are not allowed to rise to high office, are discriminated against in employment, cannot build new houses of worship (& Saudi Arabia allows ZERO non-Muslim houses of worship, eventhough there are mosques in Rome, the seat of Catholicism; England, the seat of Anglicanism; Salt Lake City, Utah, the seat of Mormonism etc.) & are not free to marry Muslims. Show me what Muslim country has complete & real religious freedom, or any kind of freedom for that matter.

Islam is not tolerant of people born with a different sexuality. There are 7 countries in the world that kill homosexual men (not women, interestingly) and they are ALL MUSLIM, a religion of vengeance, intolerance & death. Muslims demand freedom to practice their religion & respect for it, yet they do not give freedom or respect to others. How hypocritical.

Your Prophet, if he were alive today, would be treated very harshly under his own religion’s sharia law. He led his followers in robbing passing caravans killing the men in at least one occasion & ransoming their women & children – that’s thievery which would lose him his hands/feet (not to mention murder & kidnapping, but then the Qu’ran is pretty tolerant of murder of non-Muslims); he led his followers in murdering 600 hundred Jewish men in Medina & sold their women & children into slavery (nice guy), he had way too many wives & at least 2 mistresses (that is adultery in anyone’s book, not to mention sexual obsession), he "married" & had sex with a 7 or 8 year old child (child molestation), he had a convenient "revelation" from his god so he could take & marry his own adopted son’s wife (as if he needed more sex partners), he perfumed his body, dyed his hair, and painted his eyes (very Taliban, very vain, but how would he be treated in Morocco today or any other Muslim country looking like that?). The Qu’ran has so many contradictions it is hard to know what it really says about most things, and only someone who has never read it in a language they can actually understand could deny this. The Qu’ran was originally written on "scraps" of things & not put into book form until Caliph Abu Bekr, but this "book" had no vowels so speakers interpreted some words differently & different texts appeared in different cities of the Muslim realm.

In Islam all things are pre-destined, even the final fate of every living soul has been decreed by Allah from the beginning so other people’s paths in life are none of anyone else’s concern. It’s none of your business. If God were to have a problem with someone that is God’s business, no one else’s.

Religion is the problem with the world. There are 10,000 (more or less) religions in the world & almost all claim to be the only true one. The Creator must really find it all so unbelievable. We were created with an inbuilt conscience so the Creator could commune with us directly. God does not need a human "mouthpiece". God can speak to each of us individually & all at once. Why would God need a flawed human to speak for God? Silly. To deny that is to deny the power & ability of God. There are/have been hundreds/thousands of "Prophets" who claim to speak for one god/religion or another and generally contradict each other. This is not how the loving Creator works. All religion is man-made and false.

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April 2009 – From:Catherine Vuylsteke, De Morgen Newspaper, Brussels, Belgium

Stories of Moroccan Gay Men (book published 2008)

by Catherine Vuylsteke

For this book I travelled to Morocco several times and also included interviews with Moroccan gay writers such as Abdellah Taïa en Karim Nasseri. Some of the stories are about Moroccans in Brussels (there is a large community here), and show that even second generation immigrants have huge problems when they’re gay: one of the characters committed suicide at the age of 37, being a father of two kids, after a ‘forced marriage. The characters in the book vary greatly, as do their lives. Some are well to do, well educated, willing to fight (on the internet mainly); whereas others have had all the misery one can imagine, starting from having to work since the age of 8 and being sexually abused on a daily bases, ending up in jail repeatedly and being hiv+ at the age of 24.

Chapter 1
There was as a click of the mouse that differed very little from the previous one. And yet, the first click took the young man to worlds of porn and desperation, whereas the second one brought him to two French homosexuals – to Anthony from Marseilles and next to Arnaud, a Parisian.

You could call the latter his guru. In slightly less than a year of almost daily chatting, Arnaud ordained his Moroccan friend in the secrets of love between men. He shared his experiences and feelings with Saâda and taught him to talk about desire and tenderness. At nineteen to the dozen, he told him about the discussion in French society about homosexuality and about the theories on the Oedipus complex. Arnaud spoke about homoerotic books and films, about cafés, bars and annual gay processions in the capital cities of Europe. In an almost jaunty tone, he described his coming-out to his parents and teachers and the success of their process of acceptance didn’t even seem to surprise him.

They were more or less the same age, but the distance between their worlds was greater than the 2,130 kilometres, as the bird flies, which separated them. Saâda knew that he could never bridge that distance, but the knowledge that Arnaud’s world existed changed him completely.Initially, Arnaud’s jauntiness and carefree attitude took him completely by surprise and his tales went completely over and beyond Saâda’s comprehension, although he tried to not let it show. For a while, he even thought that Arnaud was making them up to cheer him up. Later, they even laughed about this together. Gradually, the young Frenchman became the centre of Saâda’s life and his improbable self-confidence even began to rub off on him… (Read the full story)

May 2009 – Miami Herald

Gay Moroccan writer takes on homophobia

by Jenny Barchfield, Associated Press
Paris – A soft-spoken slip of a young man, Abdellah Taia hardly looks the part of an iconoclast. But as Morocco’s first high-profile, openly gay man, Taia has made it his mission to win acceptance for homosexuals throughout the Muslim world.
Taia has defied Moroccan society’s don’t-ask, don’t-tell attitude toward homosexuality – and prison sentences that are still on the books in the North African kingdom – to write five autobiographical novels about growing up poor and gay in the northern coastal city of Sale.

The novels, peppered with sexually explicit passages, have catapulted him to fame in his native country and made him the de-facto poster child of its budding gay rights movement. His work has sparked harsh criticism. Taia said some outraged critics have called on him to renounce Moroccan citizenship so as "not to bring shame" on the country. It’s also alienated him from his parents and eight siblings, who figure extensively in the books and complain that Taia has publicly humiliated them.

But the 35-year-old author insists he’s never been cowed by fallout from his work. "When I write, I feel a sense of urgency, as if my life depended on it," Taia said in an interview in Paris, where he has lived for almost a decade. "When I first started writing, it never occurred to me to invent some fictional character and talk about made-up things."

His latest novel, "L’armee du Salut," or "Salvation Army," focuses on his decision to move to Europe. An English translation recently came out in the United States, with an introduction by author Edmund White. Though Taia immigrated legally – he was awarded a scholarship to study in Switzerland – his experiences in Geneva paralleled those of thousands Moroccans living in Europe without papers. After his older Swiss lover who was supposed to pick him up at the Geneva airport never shows up, a penniless Taia seeks refuge at the Salvation Army, where he lives among illegal immigrants from throughout the developing world.

In the book, he also talks about his blooming sexuality, describing teenage trysts in the back of dark movie theaters and flings with European tourists looking for more than sun on their Moroccan holidays. Like nearly all Arab countries, Morocco considers homosexual relations a crime, punishable by fines and prison sentences of six months to three years. Such penalties are rarely applied, though, and in practice, Morocco has a long history of leniency toward homosexuality and other practices forbidden by Islam.

Asked whether he sees himself as courageous, Taia said, "The most difficult thing was to work up the courage to pick up the pen and write for the first time." He grew up with a family of 11 sharing a two-room house. His father, a petty civil servant, and a his mother, an illiterate housewife, emphasized their children’s education, sending five to college.

That was where Taia began to write. Surrounded at Rabat University by children of Morocco’s French-speaking elite, he began to keep a diary to improve his written French. His journals now serve as the foundation of his novels, which are written in French and have been translated into seven languages, including Arabic and now English.

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2009 November 17 – Magharebia

Rabat meetings explore role of cinema in human rights

by Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat
The Moroccan Human Rights Advisory Council (CCDH) concluded its first-ever film festival on Sunday (November 15th) in Rabat. The event was organised to underline the important role the "seventh art" can play in promoting human rights.
CCDH President Ahmed Herzenni said that the meetings "are aimed at starting a trend in Morocco on the issue of film and human rights and starting a regional cultural trend involving various players such as universities, schools and professionals."

The Rabat organisers screened several films, including a feature by Algerian director Merzak Allouache entitled "Harragas". The film deals with the issue of illegal immigration by telling the story of four young Algerians who try to cross the Mediterranean to reach Spain. Allouache said that film makes it possible to convey reality to the viewer and thus plays an essential role in efforts to foster a culture of human rights. According to Noureddine Sail, director-general of the Moroccan Cinematographic Centre, cinema and human rights have a long-standing relationship that is essential. "Film is the best educational tool for making human rights universal," he said.

Moroccan filmmaker Farida Barkia believes that the role of film is not to present preconceived realities but instead to highlight, using various techniques, aesthetic elements that tell a story through descriptions of events that actually happened. Participants emphasised the need for historical knowledge that relates the past in order to better understand the present and show what the future could be like through film. They called for particular emphasis to be laid on film in university curricula, especially the ways film portrays history.

The consensus among festival participants was that Moroccan film-making is limited at this moment to making historical films about past violations of human rights, several of which have uncovered new historical details. Participants wholeheartedly embraced the effort to promote artistic, historical and human dimensions to film. Schoolchildren from Khenifra also took part in the event by showing a short film they had made themselves on the subject of human rights violations and the efforts made by Morocco in terms of equality and reconciliation. Artists at the showing and the CCDH all hailed this enterprising film.

The organisers also hosted a tribute to distinguished Arab actor Doureid Lahham for his role in promoting human rights, before showing his latest film, "Al Houddoud" (The Borders). The film follows a man who loses his passport on the border between two fictitious countries, Charkistan and Gharbistan, and chronicles his forced stay on the border. A comedy, the film showcases numerous humorous scenes in which the lead character encounters all sorts of people while grappling with statelessness.

April 28, 2010 – Los Angeles Times

Morocco: New magazine braves risks to give voice to Arab homosexuals

Mithly means "the same as me" in Arabic; it is also a respectful way to refer to homosexuals. It is a word that the people behind Mithly magazine would like to see replace the more common "shazz," meaning pervert or deviant in Arabic, or "zemel," an expletive to describe gays in the Moroccan Berber dialect. Mithly was launched in the Moroccan capital Rabat earlier this month. Even though the magazine has received partial funding from the European Union, it was printed clandestinely and its first 200 issues were distributed under the counter.

In Morocco, as in the rest of the Arab world, homosexuality is a criminal offense, punishable with six months to three years in jail. "So far the reporting about homosexuals in Morocco has been the monopoly of the mainstream media, most of which describe us as perverts a
d a menace to society," said a journalist for Mithly who identified himself only as Mourad. "Mithly is a chance for homosexuals to give their side of the story. We wanted to give homosexuals in the Arab world a voice."

Mithly also lays claim to being the first gay magazine to serve the Arab world. Lebanon has had an online magazine for the gay community, Bekhsoos, since 2007. After Lebanon, Morocco is probably the country most tolerant of gays in the Arab world. Still, according to Kif Kif, a Madrid-based gay rights organization founded by Moroccan Samir Bergachi and also the publisher of Mithly, some 5,000 gay men have served jail sentences in Morocco since the country’s independence in 1956.

In recent years Moroccan authorities have been more relaxed about enforcing the anti-homosexuality laws, Mourad said. At the same time, homophobia has surged in the public arena, thanks to the rise of Islamist political parties. "What worries us are the constant attacks on homosexuals by the Islamist parties and the papers that support them," Mourad said. The newspaper Attajdid, often called the mouthpiece of Islamists, has already demanded a ban on Mithly. The same paper has been campaigning for months against a concert by gay British pop star Elton John, who is set to perform at the Mawazine festival in Rabat in May, claiming that it is part of a plot to "homosexualize" Morocco.

But the attacks on homosexuals don’t come solely from Islamists. In 2007 the populist newspaper Al Massae incited a lynch mob with its incendiary reporting about an alleged gay marriage in the town of Ksar El Kebir. Although the marriage turned out to be little more than a fancy dress-up party, several of the participants were sentenced to prison. The events at Ksar El Kebir were typical of the Moroccan authorities’ attitude toward homosexuality, said Catherine Vuylsteke, a Belgian journalist and the author of a book about gays and lesbians in Morocco.

"Whenever homosexuality becomes a public issue in Morocco, whether it is an alleged gay wedding or the publication of a new gay magazine, the official response is guided by its desire to steal the limelight from the Islamists," said Vuylsteke. "After the events at Ksar El Kebir, for instance, the authorities organized raids against homosexuals in several cities." The risk that publishing a gay magazine in Morocco might create a new backlash against homosexuals there doesn’t frighten Mourad.

"The sad truth is that it is quite impossible to enter into a dialogue with the Islamists about homosexuality," he said. "So the only thing we can do is to add our own voice to the debate in the hope that we will be able to change the homophobic mentality in our country, even if we realize that such a thing is quite impossible in the near future."

May 11, 2010 – Magharebia

Elton John to perform at Mawazine festival despite protests

Morocco’s Mawazine festival, to be held May 21st-29th in Rabat, features international talent including Elton John, Julio Iglesias, B.B. King and Carlos Santana. John’s appearance was confirmed by AFP on Monday (May 10th) despite a call from the Islamist Justice and Development Party last Friday that he be banned from the event, because his appearance would pose "a risk of encouraging homosexuality in Morocco".

Cancelling the concert on such grounds would "undermine the respect of privacy", and would "breach certain values that the international Mawazine festival is based on," Mawazine artistic director Aziz Daki told AFP. "We invite artists on the basis of the quality of their performance on stage and according to their artistic career."

May 21, 2010 – PinkNews

First gay magazine launched in Morocco

by Staff Writer
The first gay magazine has been launched in Morocco, despite the fact homosexuality is illegal in the country. The Arabic publication, titled Mithly, has sold around 200 copies so far, having been distributed informally. It is also available to read online. It has covered the recent controversy over Elton John’s appearance at a Moroccan music festival and a survey on suicide rates among gay Moroccans, Reuters reports.

The title is an Arabic word "the same as me" which has come to mean gay. It is published by by gay rights group Kif kif, which is Morocco’s only gay rights organisation, although it is based in Spain. Some of its writers live in Morocco but keep a low profile. Samir Bargachi, general co-ordinator of Kif-Kif, told the website that he hoped Mithly could help tackle negative attitudes to homosexuality.

He said: "For over five years now, there has been a debate surrounding homosexuality in Morocco. But the mainstream media has the tendency to sensationalise the subject. With Mithly, we have the opportunity to give the views of homosexuals, and the opportunity to interact directly with society." Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco and article 489 of the country’s criminal code imposes prison terms on people who commit "lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex."

May 27, 2010 – PinkNews

Sir Elton’s Moroccan concert a success

by Christopher Brocklebank
Elton John’s performance at the Mawazine music festival in Rabat, Morocco, went ahead last night despite fury from Islamists about his welcome into the kingdom.
Several politicians had complained that they feared Sir Elton’s appearance would "spread un-Islamic values" and increase the spread of homosexuality in Morocco. However, the 63-year-old rock singer’s visit was backed by the royal palace, the government and his fans there. One fan, 43-year-old Leila Hassan, said: "He’s a great artist. And his private life is nobody’s business." The several thousand fans who attended last night’s performance by Sir Elton sang along to the lyrics in unison, despite most of them knowing little or no English.

However, Mustapa Ramid of the Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) told reporters before the concert: "This singer is famous for his homosexual behavior and advocating it. We’re a rather open party, but promoting homosexuality is completely unacceptable." But a straight concert-goer, quoted by the Egyptian website, Bikya Masr, said: "We have seen what these conservatives have tried to do, here and elsewhere across the Arab world. We have our own parents already. We don’t need more."

Until the middle of the last century, Morocco was famously tolerant of gay men, its libertine culture attracting names including Joe Orton, Paul Bowles, Kenneth Williams and William Burroughs. Orton famously dubbed the place "Costa del Sodomy" in the early 1960s. However, in the last few decades, more conservative attitudes have prevailed and now the subject is fraught with issues, not least the ongoing battle between those that wish to modernise and those who cleave to traditional Islamic values.

2010 May 27 – Magharebia

Gay magazine ‘Mithly’ debuts in Morocco

by Imane Belhaj for Magharebia in Casablanca
In a move that probes the limits of freedom of expression in Morocco, a group of gays and lesbians is working to raise their community’s profile by publishing a trail-blazing magazine. The organisation Kif Kif (Similar) released a limited number of copies of the first edition of Mithly (Gay) in April, without applying for a government licence that they claim would have been denied.

"We didn’t submit a formal application; we knew it would be rejected," Mithly staff member Karim S., who asked that his last name be withheld to protect his privacy, told Magharebia. "[B]efore, all of us were ‘banned’ — not to mention the magazine", said the journalist. "But we’re aware that we need more struggle, persistence and time. Only 200 copies of the first edition were released in April to a number of interested people and advocates for freedom of intellectual, ideological and sexual choices," he added. "Currently, it’s not at news kiosks, though we can offer it online pending a suitable form for print distribution."

Mithly magazine

Moroccan laws make homosexuality a crime punishable by six months to three years imprisonment and a fine, Samir Bergachi, who founded Kif Kif in 2004, told on May 4th. The country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and intersex people, whose rights Kif Kif was set up to protect, also face widespread hostility from Islamists. A Ministry of Communication source who asked to remain anonymous told Magharebia that the ministry had not received a licence application for Mithly.

The source also said that refusing to give a distribution licence to a magazine for gays and lesbians does not constitute any breach of law or suppression of the right to expression, because the law bans any publication that violates public ethics and morals. Despite the obstacles, Kif Kif is determined to press on, Samir S. said. If the magazine does not obtain official permission to go to print, the staff will resort to online publishing.

For now, Mithly has been distributed in a quasi-secret fashion in northern cities in particular, and does not appear at kiosks in major cities such as Casablanca or Rabat. Although it is a magazine for all gay Moroccans and Arabs, Samir S. said, Mithly will carry news, cultural items, literary works and interviews with famous figures that interest a wide audience. Despite such plans for bridge-building, Mithly is already encountering public opposition. The personal liberty of homosexuals is their own affair, but to publicly display their sexual orientation threatens society’s values, Mustapha Khalfi, a member of the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party, told the local press last week.

Another Islamist, Mohammed Najid, told the press that preventing Mithly from being issued may "protect" gays and lesbians, since no one can predict society’s reaction to the new publication. A student contacted by Magharebia, Fouad Noune, said Mithly was more dangerous than a mere magazine. "It’ll be a source of ideas inviting moral disintegration and licentiousness, and our society today is infested with a lot of deviance and doesn’t need more," said Noune.

But another student, Bouchra Hanine, told Magharebia: "You can’t talk about freedom of expression in Morocco if we’re denying a group of people the right to express their suffering and problems. Why not open the door to them in order to learn about their perspectives and ideas and what pushed them toward this different orientation, so we can understand them before making pre-judgments?"

October 27, 2010 – IGLHRC Blog

Moroccan Queers Observe National LGBT Day

By Karim Al-Samiti, Kifkif
Translated from Arabic by Hossein Alizadeh

The following is a report on the observance of national LGBT day in Morocco, written by Karim Al-Samiti, an active member of the Moroccan LGBT group Kifkif and one of its founders. Karim is also on the editorial board of Mithly, a Moroccan LGBT monthly publication in Arabic and French ( The Arabic version of this report is posted on Kifkif’s website. As part of our ongoing effort to promote the work of our partners, IGLHRC presents an English translation of the report.

On October 23, 2010, LGBT Moroccans held a ceremony in the capital city, Rabat, to observe Moroccan national LGBT day, which is usually celebrated on October 19. This year’s ceremony was attended by Kifkif members from across the Kingdom, and several members of the group from overseas. The ceremony continued throughout Saturday evening and was packed with various activities. The highlight of the event was a panel discussion, open to all participants, to discuss problems and challenges individuals face because of their sexual orientation, which prevents them from living in peace and safety, free from fear of symbolic or actual violence. All participants also expressed hope that the government of Morocco would allow the Kifkif group to work on the ground, given that the group represents an important segment of the Moroccan population. Based on the discussion of the panel, it was decided that three members of the group would draft a letter for submission to the authorities. The letter will alert the officials to the widespread human rights violations of the citizens due to their different sexual or emotional orientation and will remind them of standards set forth by various international treaties on human rights to which the Moroccan government is a signatory.

Music was not absent from the ceremony: The musical choices Kifkif played satisfied all tastes, and gave the event an air of warm sense of belonging and friendship, which is a rarity for most LGBT people inside the Kingdom. There was also a cake decorated with candles and the word Kifkif in Arabic. The participants joined each other in blowing out the candles, wishing that one day the sun of freedom and tolerance shines on the homeland.

In a speech on behalf of the organizers of the ceremony, Walid, Kifkif’s Information and Communications Coordinator, told the gathering that Kifkif has developed a plan of activities for 2011, and they will do their utmost to adhere to the plan in spite of the problems and pressures that Kifkif will face in implementing it. Following Walid’s speech, Karim, the National Coordinator for Kifkif, took the stage and reminded the audience that it is the responsibility of all LGBT people and human rights activists to become part of history by working toward eliminating injustice against sexual minorities. Kairm added that jailing, fining and forcing LGBT people into a marginalized life will not change the fact that human beings are not homogenous and will never be so. He added that the good citizens should only be judged by their productivity and the service to the homeland and not based on their personal feelings and emotions. Karim ended his speech by these words, “Enough of the imprisonment of the active and productive youth who love their country! Enough demonization of homosexuals! Enough treating them as if they are untouchable, sick, crazy, or from another planet! Enough attending the funerals of the young people whose candle of life was blown away by the storm of rejection, fear, and abuse, and their bodies were thrown to the dark arms of death! Enough alienating our youth and forcing them into exile overseas, where they have to suffer from loneliness and separation! Enough destroying the future of our people and depriving them of their rights as citizens! Enough tears! This country belongs to all. The God belongs to all, and the love is for all of us!”

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