France’s FM visit to Morocco shadowed by homophobia

France’s FM visit to Morocco shadowed by homophobia

The French Foreign Minister’s visit to rescue relations with Rabat was tainted by homophobia, according to The New Arab and agencies.

On 26th February, France’s FM Stephane Sejourne visited Rabat to attend a “working lunch” with intentions of salvaging Franco-Moroccan relations, however, the visit was overshadowed by an air of homophobia.

The day before Sejourne’s meeting with his counterpart, Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s former Prime Minister Abdellilah Benkirane spoke about the “danger of homosexuality.”

Benkirane commented on French Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal’s sexuality, stating “How could he be proud of that and being married to his foreign minister?”.

Sejourne “neither confirms nor denies” his long term partnership with PM Attal, who is a potential candidate for France’s next presidential election as their partnership could kick start France’s next nepotism scandal.

Many Moroccans took to social media to criticise Benkirane for his homophobic remarks against PM Attal and FM Sejourne. However, a 2019 BBC survey revealed that only 21% of Moroccans are allies to the LGBTQ+ community.

Sejourne had previously upset Morocco, accusing Rabat of corruption and human rights abuse, when serving in the European Parliament. Sejourne has since vowed that he would do “anything to bring France and Morocco closer together,” after President Macron has specifically appointed Sejourne to amend relations.

Although Morocco is considered to be more liberal than most MENA countries, it ranks in 18th place on Forbes’ ’20 Worst Places For Gay Travelers In 2021’. Morocco’s maximum sentence for homosexuality is 3 years in prison, which can often include additional fines.

READ: Will Barbie film get banned across all MENA countries?

According to the Human Dignity Trust, in November 2023, a young minor who was a victim of assault and rape was sentenced to six months in prison upon the “accusation of being gay,” and was ordered to pay a $550 fine. His attacker received an eight year prison sentence.

Sky News reported in July 2023 that a BBC journalist asked the Moroccan captain at the Women’s World Cup if any of her team were in same-sex relationships – a “bizarre” question which “poses safety concerns” for the team members. Despite the intervention of a FIFA representative, the journalist pushed for an answer which he never recieved. The BBC apologised, acknowledging that the question was “inappropriate” and that they did not intend to “cause any harm or distress.”

NA/AFP/Sky News


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