A Moroccan appeals court has upheld the convictions of several men accused of homosexual acts.
At least four of the six defendants in the case in central Morocco were convicted July 2 on charges that included “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex,” according to Human Rights Watch.
The appeals court in the city of Beni Mellal upheld the conviction of the men solely on the basis of statements that they made while in police custody. All six had repudiated those statements at the trial, asserting they had only signed them because of police threats, one of the defense lawyers, Hadda Maidar, told Human Rights Watch.
The court called no witnesses and reviewed no other evidence, and all of the defendants denied in court that they were gay, she said.
“Moroccan authorities should stop prosecuting and jailing people for their intimate behavior with other consenting adults,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Whatever the sexual orientation of these six defendants, they shouldn’t face criminal penalties because of it.”
Article 489 of the Penal Code of Morocco criminalizes “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.”
Same-sex sexual activity in Morocco and can be punished by up to 3 years imprisonment and a fine of 1200 dirhams (about $150 USD). The legal status of LGBT people living in Morocco stems largely from traditional Islamic morality, which views homosexuality as a sign of immorality.