Morocco’s Tourism Minister Qualifies Statement on Decriminalization of Homosexuality

Rabat – Lahcen Haddad, Morocco’s Minister of Tourism, issued an official statement on Thursday qualifying his earlier statements in an interview calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Morocco.After a video in which he expressed his opinion in favor of decriminalizing homosexuality in Morocco went viral on the internet, the minister released a statement clarifying his position and the stance of his party regarding the issue.“For more information and to inform the public opinion, I should say that the Popular Movement party of which I am a member, has not taken a position on this matter and that this issue was not on its agenda.One of the founding principles of the party is freedom with respect to the traditions and values of our society, and the debate around this question should respect values and be in conformity with the new Constitution,” the minister added. In an exclusive interview with CNN Arabic at the headquarters of his ministry in Morocco last October, the minister stated that “we should de-criminalize this [homosexuality and consensual sex out of wedlock] because it falls within the framework of protecting individual freedoms.”The minister added, however, that “if this phenomenon poses a threat to society or to the family, a consensual solution must be found.”The minister added that homosexuality and consensual sex out of wedlock falls within the framework of personal freedoms as long as homosexuals do not display their sexual orientation in public venues.Sexual relations out of wedlock are punishable by law in Morocco. Article 489 of the Moroccan Penal Code punishes sexual activities between people of the same sex by prison terms of six months to three years.

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