Maroc Hebdo (Morocco Weekly) pulled its latest issue off shelves after the cover story asked if gays and lesbians should be burned to death. Homosexuality is illegal in the North African country.
“Our publication is not a political editorial that pushes a certain sensationalism or provocative topics that can offend the public,” editor Mohamed Selhami said in a statement. “In this instance, it wanted to show the different sides of a social fact; homosexuality and by extension its status in our society. A debate on today’s agenda. Maroc Hebdo wanted in this respect to give an account of this debate.”
But the three articles associated with the cover did not lash out at homosexuality. Instead, they made the case for the country to decriminalize it. From Gay Star News:
Last week’s issue contained three articles on homosexuality: one was a summary of the situation for gay people in Morocco and the second an interview with a LGBTI activist.
The third was a piece by staff writer Mustapha Sehimi, who downplayed the dangers for gay people in the Muslim-majority country.
‘Today, more than 70 states forbid homosexuality. In around ten of them, the sentence gay people risk death penalty,’ he wrote.
‘There is still a lot to do to strengthen human rights in Morocco so we don’t have to be misled into some dubious fight for such a marginal purpose as decriminalization of homosexuality.’
There is a movement in Morocco to provide freedom for gays. The Ministry of Health asked the government to decriminalize it “to aid HIV and AIDS effort.” A study found HIV and other STDs climbing in the gay community and that the majority of gays do not use condoms.
Health minister El Houssaine Louardi said homosexuality needs to be legal in order for officials to reach those in need and stop the spread of deadly STDs. Many do not seek health care due to the stigma or fear of prison.