Translated by Zouzou from Défense des minorités: le cas de la cause homosexuelle
The homosexuality issue has been raging for quite a while, since a young Moroccan writer boldly claimed his sexual orientation, stirring debate about the Moroccan society, its habits and social behaviours that for a long time, were thought to be still or eternal. Not anymore.
Abdellah Taïa is no alien. The son of a “shawesh” (gatekeeper) at the National Library and of an illiterate housewife, he is a dreamy young Moroccan from a working class neibourhood in Salé that has a lot in common with all of us. He is the ‘common man’ we love to mention as a reference in our lobby conversations, in bars and cafés. He is a living example of the changing youth mentality in Morocco, much talked about, not only with his assumed homosexuality, but also by his views on Morocco’s future. He does put aside the conventional hypocrisy and put his speech into practice, joining acts and thoughts together.
The militant Abdellah Taïa is a living proof that a debate can be held on homosexuality. I, myself, have shifted from having, like many of my fellow citizens, quite homophobic views into actually starting to understand and defend homosexuals?
To offer help to the homosexual community in its struggle, straight people must be involved; people who have strong stands on defending individual liberties, who believe in the necessity of a debate, and are not afraid of backing either sides of the argument. We could establish civic rules that would guaranty respect to all sides and put an end to the unfair treatment and exclusion the gay population has been suffering from. For this is a category that has concerns like many others have: like the cab drivers when they protest against the new traffic code; like football fans when they unite to defend their football team. They are men and women fully entitled to their rights and who want to participate in the development of their country and in the defense of the rule of Law. Of course we are (in Morocco) nowhere near the level of the debate in the West where it is centered on gay marriage and adoption of children by gay couples. One day will come hopefully when we will reach the stage when like in those civilized societies, we also will be able to decide on our own where exactly we stand, based on the battle of ideas and not in response to the dictatorship of those who want to impose their own Morocco on us.
Yes, we are all homosexuals. In Morocco, needless to say how men warmly and intimately embrace and touch each other maybe more than any other country. That’s the way tourists perceive it anyway. Moreover, Marrakech is known to be the Moroccan capital of homosexuals. As the popular saying goes: “If you drop a Dirham in Marrakech, (don’t bend over), just push it by the foot till you get to the Souk” Now, let’s face the issue and accept different people (as long as they allow us to pick up the bloody Dirham in Marrakesh, that is).
“My liberty is bound by that of others’.” No more, no less. Same rights and same duties for everyone, freely and democratically established in complete respect of the minority. That’s what liberty stands for.
Today the debate has been launched. What’s more, it is gaining ground. The association Kif Kif for the defense of liberties, established in Madrid, was promoting its work in Morocco some months ago. Activists have met with politicians and members of the civil society. Who would have thought 5 years ago that this could happen? Who? While it is true that we may never win the sympathy of the “bearded” nor that of the old conservatives, nor that of many others, today’s youth grow up with this debate in mind, and they will hopefully not remain indifferent to the appeals for freedom and tolerance. We witnessed some dramatic events like in Ksser Lekbir and elsewhere, but let us rather see positively and contructively how these cases have opened up the discussion that was so far languishing in a state of cultural stagnation.
So things will have to change. Let us not be afraid of what we think and let us allow the change to happen without asking ourselves about the limits we shall impose on it. For this to happen, we must be convinced that we can apply the changes on the personal level. This will lead to a snowball effect that will eventually transform the whole society. Let us each question and give ourselves the power to think independently. Let us stop putting the blame for our failures on the Moroccan average citizen. She/he is the one who will open the way. Freedom is the essence of development. The fight for one’s liberty, is also the fight for another’s.
The first ten years of the reign of King Mohammed VI have seen a number of social issues advanced. From the women’s status to the issue of Amazigh rights, several debates are emerging on the public scene. But the debate in our country doesn’t take the conventional form of national debates in other developed nations. In order to respond to changes in the society, all actors of our country must be able to participate in these exchanges provided that authorities protect all minorities taking part in these debates. But we’re not there yet.