Rabat, Morocco (AFP) — Three Moroccan men accused of homosexuality have been sentenced to three years in jail each by a court in north-eastern Morocco, a rights group said on Monday.
Homosexuality and sexual relations outside marriage are forbidden in the conservative North African nation.
Hassan Ammari of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) told AFP the sentence was handed down on Friday by a court in the city of Taourirt, confirming media reports.
Two of the men, a mechanic in his 40s and a man in his 20s, were “caught in the act” in the mechanic’s workshop by police acting on a tip-off, Ammari said.
They were arrested and during their detention they said they had met through a mutual friend, who was also arrested, and admitted having sexual relations.
Moroccan authorities have declined to comment.
Article 489 of Morocco’s penal code states that any one found guilty of carrying out “a deviant act with a person of the same sex” will be jailed for to up to three years.
In March, Human Rights Watch called on Morocco to decriminalise homosexuality, saying that “criminalising consensual, adult homosexual conduct violates international human rights law”.
It noted that article 24 of Morocco’s 2011 Constitution states that “all persons have the right to protection of their private life”.
“This right, absent in the previous constitution, should lead to the abolition of the law criminalising consensual same-sex conduct,” it said.
A survey published in November by the weekly TelQuel magazine showed that at least eight out of 10 Moroccans disapprove of homosexuality.