Saturday, October 19, 2019

Morocco: Girls on trial for homosexuality

RABAT, Morocco (AFP) — Two teenage girls allegedly caught kissing on a roof appeared in court in Morocco’s Marrakesh on Friday charged with homosexual acts, one of their lawyers said.

The girls, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, were charged with “licentious or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex”.

The two girls were arrested on October 28 after being reported by their families. They had allegedly been caught kissing and hugging on a rooftop.

Detained for a week, they were released on bail.

he girls face between six months and three years in prison if found guilty.

“They denied what was in the police report, namely that they had a homosexual relationship, and said their relationship was friendly,” lawyer Rachid al-Ghorfi told AFP.

Ghorfi said the court will issue a verdict on December 9.

They have been charged under Article 489 of Morocco’s penal code, which criminalises what it calls “sexual deviancy” between two people of the same gender.

Human rights groups have called for the article to be scrapped.

“These two girls could go to prison for simply expressing affection for each other,” said Sarah Leah Whitson of New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Moroccan authorities should drop charges against them and stop prosecuting people for private consensual acts.”

Arrests for alleged homosexual acts are not uncommon, although HRW said this was the first such case involving two girls.

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