Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises LGBT people
  • Criminalises sexual activity between males
  • Criminalises sexual activity between females

Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Penal Code 1962, which criminalises ‘lewd or unnatural acts’. This provision carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a fine. Both men and women are criminalised under this law.

In 1956, Morocco officially gained independence from France, which had long since decriminalised same-sex sexual activity. The criminalising law is therefore of local origin, having been adopted in the 1962 Penal Code.

There is substantial evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, with LGBT people being frequently subject to arrest. Reports suggest that hundreds of prosecutions under the law have taken place in recent years. There have been consistent reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people, including assault, harassment, and societal marginalisation.



On 6 February, two people of the Wardana community were arrested on the accusation of practicing homosexuality. It is unclear whether they have been charged.

In March, the Royal Gendarmerie reportedly raided a house after receiving a tip-off it was hosting “gay activities” and arrested a group of young men. The men were taken into custody, although they have not yet been charged pending further investigation.


In April, a villa near Casablanca was reportedly raided during an LGBT event, leading to the arrest of 80 people.

According to TALAY’AN NGO, in November, a young minor, who had been previously subjected to assault and rape by a muezzin (a respected figure of authority in a mosque) was sentenced to six months in prison himself, under ‘the accusation of being gay’. He also received a fine of 20,000 DH (approximately 200 USD). The perpetrator received an eight-year prison sentence.

In September, four individuals, including a foreigner, were arrested by the police in Marrakesh for homosexuality and drug possession. It is not clear whether they were charged.

Two young men were convicted for ‘practicing homosexuality’ and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Court of First Instance in the city of Al Hoceima.  


A US State Department report suggested that 283 individuals were prosecuted for same-sex sexual activity between January and October.

According to a 2022 submission by the Moroccan Coalition for Gender and Sexual Diversity, 838 persons were prosecuted under article 489 between 2017 and 2020. The submission also noted that the trans community faces de facto criminalisation, both under article 489 and under article 283, which punishes anyone who commits “outrage to public decency”.


A Country of Origin Information report from the Danish Immigration Service, published in September, indicates that the number of prosecutions could be much higher than the publicly available figures. The report found that human rights groups would only be aware of cases that had been reported in the media, which did not reflect the total amount of cases. The National Human Rights Council, for example, only had knowledge of four to five cases being heard at the court of first instance in 2015, and a lawyer interviewed for the report was aware of ten cases heard in 2015, and twenty in 2016. However, the real number of cases is  likely to be much higher.

The Office of the Prosecutor General’s statistics for 2019 suggested that 122 people were prosecuted for same-sex sexual activity. 


According to a report from the Office of the Public Prosecutor, there were 147 ‘registered cases’ of ‘homosexuality’ and 170 charged in 2018. In 2017, the official number of prosecutions was 197.


In March a group of four men broke into a private home and assaulted the two men in the home. They dragged them out naked onto the street where  they were beaten and filmed by an angry mob. One of the victims was arrested and convicted under article 489. Two of the attackers were also found guilty of assault.

In May, two men were arrested and charged under article 489 after being found by police in a parked car on the outskirts of the town of Guelmim. The men were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.

In November, two teenage girls, 16-year-old Sanaa and 17-year-old Hajar, went to trial on homosexuality charges after they were caught kissing and reported to police in Marrakesh. They were reportedly held in adult prison instead of a juvenile facility. In December, they were acquitted of the charges.


In June, two men were sentenced for violating article 489 after posing for a photo together outside a mosque. Reports suggest the incident was linked to another case that took place a day prior, in which two topless French activists were arrested and deported after kissing in the same spot.


A report from Human Rights Watch stated that in July, a Moroccan appeals court upheld the convictions of six men charged with homosexual acts in April. Four of those individuals were convicted under article 489 and two were imprisoned, with the rest reportedly being given suspended sentences. The report claims that all six men may have been banished from the region.

In December, two men were convicted under article 489 and 483 (‘public indecency’) after a brief trial based upon ‘confessions’ which the defendants repudiated. Their sentences were reduced from three years’ imprisonment to six months on appeal.


One report suggests that as many as 5,000 individuals may have been arrested under Morocco’s criminalising laws since the country gained independence in 1956.


report of the Associated Press includes Ministry of Justice statistics indicating “81 trials for homosexuality in 2011″.

Discrimination and Violence


In August, Justice Minister Abdellatif Ouahbi stated that he had serious concerns over the increasing influence of gay people on society, arguing that this may result in serious consequences.


In July, Facebook closed down the #Fetrah page, an online hate campaign which had gone viral in Morocco, which had promoted the idea that there are only two genders.

In November, Tangier’s judicial police arrested an adult and three minors after a widely circulated video showed them beating a transgender woman. The attackers reportedly used homophobic slurs during the attack based on the victim’s attire. After their arrest, the adult was taken into custody, while the three minors were placed under police surveillance. The adult was later charged for assault and violence in a public space and given a prison sentence of four months.

LGBT rights organisation Association Akaliyat has reportedly been prohibited from registering officially as an organisation, despite having been trying to do so since their original application on 24 December 2016.


The US Department of State report found that LGBT victims of violence in high-profile cases continued to be harassed when recognised in public. In March and April, a transgender Moroccan activist in Turkey started a campaign encouraging the outing of closeted gay people in Morocco, which resulted in numerous reported cases of harassment and death threats against LGBT people.

In April, at least 50 to 100 gay men were outed in an online outing and harassment campaign, as their photos were spread on social media. Many were kicked out of their family houses in the middle of the coronavirus lockdown.

According to a study by LGBT rights organization Association Akaliyat, 70% of surveyed LGBT persons had been victims of acts of physical and psychological violence, with transgender women particularly affected at 86.5%.


In May, four individuals attacked and stripped a man due to his sexual orientation. The man was seriously injured and pressed charges against the perpetrators.

The report by the Danish Immigration Service on the situation of LGBT persons in Morocco suggested that LGBT people face a range of societal marginalisation, including physical, social, and institutional violence. It suggests that LGBT people hide their identities to avoid being threatened with violence.

In December, a transgender woman in Marrakech was attacked by a mob for wearing a dress in public. She was subsequently arrested by the police, and officers leaked photos of her ID to the media, outing her and forcing her to seek asylum outside of Morocco.


The US Department of State report found that being LGBT could “constitute a basis for societal violence, harassment, blackmail, or other actions, generally at a local level, although with reduced frequency.”


Despite reports of discrimination and arrests persisting in Morocco, some reports indicate that the country is becoming increasingly tolerant to LGBT individuals. In 2010 the Morocco’s first gay magazine was announced.


Local Organisations

Equality Morocco

an independent NGO fighting against discrimination based on gender and sexuality in Morocco.


a group of feminist LBTQ women combatting all forms of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Trans Dynamics

the first transgender-focussed organisation in Morocco supporting the local trans community.

Related Countries


Algeria criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a fine.


Tunisia criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.


Mauritania criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of death by stoning.

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