/ 16 January 2008

Moroccan court upholds ‘homosexuality’ sentences

A Moroccan appeals court has upheld prison sentences for six men jailed for ”homosexuality”, lawyer Mohamed Sebbar said on Wednesday.

The decision prompted Amnesty International to call for Morocco to decriminalise homosexuality — which carries a maximum three-year sentence.

The 10-month sentence of the chief accused, Fouad Friret, remained unchanged for the crimes of ”homosexuality” and ”selling alcohol illegally” at what local press termed a ”gay marriage” at Ksar El Kebir in the north.

The other five, aged between 20 and 61, had their sentences reduced to two months behind bars instead of between six and four.

London-based North African Amnesty spokesperson Benedicte Goderiaux issued a demand for the six to be freed immediately — and for the men to be given state protection.

”Article 489 of the Moroccan penal code (covering homosexuality) runs contrary to human rights conventions signed by the kingdom,” she said.

In November, Islamist militants took part in a violent anti-gay rally in Ksar El Kebir, with protesters attacking the home of one of the party organisers, who fled to the police station. — Sapa-AFP