Maroc Hebdo, a Moroccan magazine, has recalled the issue which provocatively questioned if gay Moroccans should be burned as a punishment for being LGBTQ.
Initially published last week, the cover title and question – “Should We Burn Gays?” – caused a strong reaction from the public, prompting the magazine’s recall. The magazine denies claims of homophobia, instead, saying that they were attempting to prompt discussion.
Ah, yes, let’s have an intellectual discussion of the slaughter of a minority group. My contribution to the discussion is simple and straightforward: “Um no, that’s the worst idea.”
The three articles that attempted to answer the question were not as succinct as my answer, however, none of them actually advocated for burning members of the LGBTQ community. One article provided an overview of the status of LGBTQ people in Morocco, another was an interview with an activist from the LGBTQ community, and the third was an opinion piece arguing that decriminalization of homosexuality should not be a priority within the kingdom.
Currently, conservative Morocco, according to Article 489 of its penal code, punishes homosexuality by up to three years in prison.
In contract to the opinion piece, the Health Ministry of Morocco last week recommended its decriminalization. The reason, however, is not altruistic, but practical. They believe, probably correctly, that they would have an easier time reaching LGBTQ individuals who may be HIV positive, but who are afraid to seek treatment due to fear of jail-time and stigma.
Only shortly after the magazine was withdrawn from newsstands, two men were arrested in Morocco for violating “public modesty,” by taking a photo of themselves embracing. Their arrest was accompanied by the release of their names and photographs in an attempt to shame the pair.
The shaming is working: the families of the men have been subject to protestors outside their homes hurling homophobic slurs.
Hopefully, the two men will not be forced down the same path as three others were last month who were punished for the crime of being LGBTQ by a three year jail sentence.