Main | Monday, October 06, 2014

MOROCCO: British Government Works To Free Tourist Jailed For Homosexuality

The British Foreign Office is working to free a tourist who was sentenced to four months in prison for "homosexual acts" after being arrested while vacationing in Morocco. Via BBC News:
Ray Cole, from Deal, Kent, was detained with his Moroccan partner by police who approached the pair at a bus stop in Marrakesh last month, his family said. His son Adrian Cole said the retired magazine publisher, 69, was jailed for four months on Thursday. Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke warned travelers that Morocco was unsafe for British tourists. The Conservative MP told the Pink News: "I have been doing all I can to help free Mr Cole from these appalling charges. "I urge people not to visit Morocco. If you go there you are at serious risk of facing trumped up charges for medieval crimes. The message is clear: Morocco is not safe for British tourists." Foreign Office guidelines state that homosexuality is a criminal offense in Morocco and sexual relations outside marriage are also punishable by law.
More from Pink News:
Mr Cole’s son Adrian Cole told Pink News that the Moroccan authorities failed to notify his family or the British Consulate of the arrest, and Mr Cole was feared missing for nearly a week before he was eventually able to get in contact. Both Mr Cole and Mr Jam Wald Nass were sentenced to four months in prison on October 2, when police searched Mr Cole’s mobile phone and found a photograph of the two men together, which was used in court as ‘proof’ of homosexual acts. Adrian Cole said: “The trial was a complete farce, it was just farcical. They’ve gone through his phone and found photographs that they’re using as evidence for a homosexual act.” The Foreign and Commonwealth Office told Pink News: “We can confirm the detention of a British national in Morocco. We are providing consular assistance.”
Cole's son is also gay and says that he risked imprisonment himself merely by attending his father's trial. An online petition to Moroccan authorities has been launched and there's a #FreeRayCole hashtag on Twitter.

RELATED: Morocco is about the same size and population as California. According to Pew Research, Morocco is 99.9% Muslim. Anti-homosexuality laws are sporadically enforced in tourist areas and prison terms are relatively short compared to some African nations. Perhaps obviously, LGBT Moroccans have zero civil rights.

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