Moroccan Queers Observe National LGBT Day

By Karim Al-Samiti, Kifkif, Translated from Arabic by Hossein Alizadeh
The following is a report on the observance of the national LGBT day in Morocco, written by Karim Al-Samiti, an active member of the Moroccan LGBT group (Kif Kif) and one of their founders. Karim is also on the editorial board of Mithly, the monthly publication of Moroccan LGBT in Arabic and French (http://www.mithly.net/). The Arabic version of this report is posted on Kifkif’s website (http://www.gaymaroc.net/ar/national/5140--19-). As part of our ongoing effort to promote the work of our partners, IGLHRC present the English translation of the report.

On October 23, 2010, LGBT Moroccan held a ceremony in the capital city, Rabat, to observe the Moroccan national LGBT day, which is usually celebrated on October 19. This year’s ceremony was attended by Kifkif members from across the Kingdom, and several members of the group from overseas. The ceremony continued throughout Saturday evening and was packed with various activities. The highlight of the event was a panel discussion, open to all participants, to discuss problems and challenges individuals face because of their sexual orientation, which prevents them from living in peace and safety, free from fear of symbolic or actual violence. All participants also expressed hope that the government of Morocco would allow the KifKif group to work on the ground, given that the group represents an important segment of the Moroccan population. Based on the discussion of the panel, it was decided that three members of the group would draft a letter for submission to the authorities. The letter will alert the officials to the widespread human rights violations of the citizens due to their different sexual or emotional orientation and will remind them of standards set forth by various international treaties on human rights to which the Moroccan government is a signatory.

Music was not absent from the ceremony: The musical choices Kifkif played satisfied all tastes, and gave the event an air of warm sense of belonging and friendship, which is rarity for most LGBT people inside the Kingdom. There was also a cake decorated with candles and the word KifKif in Arabic. The participants joined each other in blowing out the candles, wishing that one day the sun of freedom and tolerance shines on the homeland.

In a speech on behalf of the organizers of the ceremony, Walid, Kifkif’s Information and Communications Coordinator, told the gathering that Kifkif has developed a plan of activities for 2011, and they will do their utmost to adhere to the plan in spite of the problems and pressures that Kifkif will face in implementing it. Following Walid’s speech, Karim, the National Coordinator for Kifkif, took the stage and reminded the audience that it is the responsibility of all LGBT people and human rights activists to become part of the history by working toward eliminating injustice against sexual minorities. Kairm added that jailing, fining and forcing LGBT people to a marginalized life will not change the fact that human beings are not homogenous and will never be so. He added that the good citizens should only be judged by their productivity and the service to the homeland and not based on their personal feelings and emotions. Karim ended his speech by these words, “Enough of the imprisonment of the active and productive youth who love their country! Enough demonization of homosexuals! Enough treating them as if they are untouchable, sick, crazy, or from another planet! Enough attending the funerals of the young people whose candle of life was blown away by the storm of rejection, fear, and abuse, and their bodies were thrown to the dark arms of death! Enough alienating our youth and forcing them into exile overseas, where they have to suffer from loneliness and separation! Enough destroying the future of our people and depriving them of their rights as citizens! Enough tears! This country belongs to all. The God belongs to all, and the love is for all of us!”

Shortly before the end of the ceremony, Karim, the National Coordinator of Kifkif received a phone call from Samir Barkachi, the Executive Director of KifKi, who sent his greetings to all the participants and congratulated the LGBT community for organizing such a bold event. Samir reminded the audience that the journey of a thousand mile starts with the first step. He promised the audience that KifKif will strive, through all legitimate methods, to promote tolerance and diversity in the country in order to defend the rights of gays, lesbians, transgenders, intersex, and bisexuals. Samir also expressed his satisfaction over the success of the secret ceremony and hoped that the Moroccan government adopts a more flexible and tolerant approach toward homosexuals.

At the end of the ceremony, the floor was open to the participants so that they could share their opinion on this valuable initiative. Zuhair from Casablanca said, "I am very happy that I was among those present at this historic ceremony, I felt that I am among my real family." Mohammed from Meknes said: "Before the ceremony I felt lonely and isolated, but the event made me feel comfortable and brought back desire to life." Shams, from Marrakech has confirmed that this event has given him confidence in himself and hoped to have more ceremonies like this one. There were a number of non-LGBT attendants in the ceremony, including Mustafa, Abdel-Latif, and Fouad, who despite their different sexual orientations, were overwhelmed with the feeling of love and peace in the ceremony. Many people express their delight and pleasure at this meeting through their tears of joy. Others preferred the exchange of hugs and kisses to show their true friendship and care for each other.

Read the article in Arabic »