Morocco jails two over anti-gay beating

jail2A Moroccan court sentenced two men to four months in jail Thursday for beating up a presumed homosexual because of his appearance, a rights group said.

The verdict was delivered by a court in the central city of Fez where a crowd of angry youths assaulted a man in July, accusing him of being a homosexual.

Mustapha Jebbour, of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, said the pair were also ordered to pay a fine of 500 dirhams (around 50 euros/$55).

The men were arrested after websites posted a video of the victim trying in vain to take shelter in a taxi to escape a crowd.

The man is seen collapsing to the ground under an avalanche of blows.

He finally gets to his feet, clothes torn, and tries of take cover in a shop before a policeman appears and holds up his gun to disperse the crowd.

The footage triggered outrage in Morocco, with people taking to social media to denounce the assault and one website, Le360, comparing the attack to the “barbarity” of the Islamic State group.

Some 70 lawyers mobilised to represent the victim, who Jebbour said “is still in shock and needs psychological support”.

Following the arrest of the two men, the justice ministry vowed to “deal firmly” against “those who stand in for the law”.

Homosexual activity is punishable in Morocco by up to three years in jail. A divisive law — known as Article 489 — has been the subject of several protests, including a recent topless demonstration by feminist group Femen in the capital.

After a string of controversies over homosexuality, two men were jailed for four months on June 19 for kissing in public in Rabat. They were convicted of an “affront to public decency” and an “unnatural act with a person of the same sex”.

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    • Patrick Van Der Ven

      Ponoman. Nigeria is always in my prayers. I have read about the disturbing violence that is perpetrated again gay people. I have read with horror, the demonization, the vilification and the rabid hatred of gay people. I know only 13% of your country favours gay rights. That figure in itself is almost a doubling of approval in two years. I reminded a British website that Belgium decriminalised homosexuality in 1795 and only occurred in Britain in 1967. So each state has to deal with LGBTI rights and their own pace. I also reminded the press not to tie aid and make gay rights conditional aid as it only stir nationalistic ire against the west and sets the human rights agenda backwards by inciting further hatred to an already marginalised group I wish Africans could sit and think rationally what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom harms no one and that sexuality is just one part of a person. Politicians use the gays as a way to divert attention from their failures, be it economic malaise, corruption, extrajudicial killings. Eventually however, that will change in your country as people will be forced to tackle these issues head on. I have noticed some very frank and sympathetic reporting of gay rights in the press, so there is hope. I hope it is speedy, but I think it will take the best part of a generation.