Morocco judge acquits girls accused of homosexuality


A judge in Morocco has acquitted two teenage girls on trial for alleged homosexuality after they were reportedly caught kissing, one of their three lawyers said.The 16-year-old and 17-year-old were arrested in October and detained for a week on charges of taking part in a “licentious or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex”.They were released on bail until their trial but on Friday a judge decided to release them definitively into the custody of their parents, according to defence lawyer Rachid al-Ghorfi.They were not sanctioned under article 489 of the penal code, which criminalises what it calls “sexual deviancy” between two people of the same gender, he added.If found guilty, they could have been jailed for up to three years.

The girls – who had been caught allegedly kissing and hugging on the roof of a house in Marrakech – denied being in a sexual relationship and said they were only friends.About 20 human rights groups issued a statement denouncing their arrest and said the girls had been ill-treated from the time of their arrest and throughout the legal proceedings.Morocco, a country of 35 million people torn between religious conservatism and openness to the west, has seen several controversial cases relating to homosexuality in recent years.Watchdogs including the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, which appointed a lawyer to defend the girls, have repeatedly called for article 489 to be scrapped.


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