In Morocco, users of a gay dating app are ‘geout’. That caused problems for some men, because homosexuality is banned in the country. They are threatened, and some of them have even been evicted by their families. Under a video we posted about it, we got almost 2000 comments. “Honest is honest people, it‘s against nature,” was one of them. Also, some young people reacted with “pride” and the Moroccan flag. That shocked others: “To think that even in a country like the Netherlands so many people are homophobic…“, it was responded. So mixed reactions.
Why do I need to know this?
In Morocco, homosexuality is punishable. Has to do with it being an Islamic country. Some Muslims believe that according to their faith, homosexuality should not be, and should be punished. Therefore, in Morocco, you can go to jail for three years if, for example, you have sex with someone of the same sex.
In the Netherlands, this is very different. You can be homosexual here and marry whoever you want. Nevertheless, there are also people here who do not accept homosexuality. Some groups more than others. For example, Protestants, people with a non-Western migration background and people from “other religions” think almost twice as negative about LGBT people as other people. Not only Moroccans, but that was what this post was about. That’s why we looked into this further.
Who finds what?
fact that homosexuality has so much to do with these young people, according to Najat Chicar, has a lot to do with culture and their faith. She speaks on behalf of the Dutch-Moroccan LHBTI-organisation Pink Marrakech with Moroccan young people at schools about homosexuality: “This is such a very sensitive subject. Sexuality is already unspeakable, but homosexuality is really next level. This is certainly not only true of Moroccan young people, but also in many other cultures it is a difficult theme.”
According to Najat, faith and family play a big role in this: “Some Muslims say you break the rules when you are gay. And within the culture there is a very, very sense of us. If you break the rules, it‘s bad for your family too.” Najat thinks that can explain why Moroccan young people also have problems with homosexuality in the Netherlands: “The Netherlands is a rather individualistic country, people are more dependent on themselves here. You will learn that at school and outside the home, but as soon as you get home, you will fall under the rules of your family again. You want to continue to be part of that, you don’t want to be left out, even though you may have a different opinion or orientation.”
That is also what Ziad said of 18: “In Morocco, your family is looking forward to the moment you get married. If you‘re gay, then a dream for your family falls into shattering. In addition, it can also be dangerous for your family, they are also looked at when you break the rules. That’s why I understand that these laws are there.”
why he also posted the comment “That’s my country” with a heart and the Moroccan flag: “I wanted to speak out because we have different standards and values, and people here sometimes pretend that we don‘t count. I do not think that these gays in Morocco have just been put out on the street, but the rules there are based on our faith. I certainly did not want to hate, but I think it would be good to start the discussion. As a result, I have learned more about other opinions.”
Oualid of 17 is such a person with a different opinion. He saw all the comments of young people who spoke against gays, and also decided to respond: “I am a Moroccan myself but this gives me grief. I’m against the gays ban. This affects all the Moroccans in the world.” On the phone he explains why he felt the need to speak out: “I often see such fierce comments on news about Islam or about Moroccans. Many young people think that because faith says it‘s a sin, you have to scold or harass people who commit that sin. That’s not the intention at all. What we believe to do is treat everyone with respect, even if they break the rules or believe something else.”
Najat is hopeful that something will change among Moroccan young people. She already notices that that happens when she talks to them in schools: “Those conversations end amazingly beautiful every time. In the beginning, they‘re angry and put on macho. But then we make them think. We ask them where it comes from that they react so fiercely. Then they often realise that it doesn’t say anything about themselves or about faith when someone is gay. Because they are often afraid that their faith will be affected, and that belief is very important. We‘re actually making them realize that they can have their own opinions and stillcan believe with all their heart.”
Whether conversations on social media, for example in comments under our videos, can also work so well, she doubts: “It is difficult to ask the whole of the Netherlands to engage in that conversation in the right way. Moreover, young people can feel a little attacked, they do not want to hear how they should do it. Then you get battle. In the end, we try to teach them that it’s fine to have an opinion. That may be. But know that there are just as many people who have a different opinion.”