Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

On Homosexuality in Morocco

The Syrian blogosphere recently got fired up over the subject of homosexuality.  Specifically, a group of bloggers of a variety of backgrounds launched a campaign against homosexuality, and another group of bloggers responded rationally (though angrily).  As my dear friend Razan pointed out in this epic post:

It is very outrageous for some and for me to hear arguments that are against non-virgin women and homosexuals, but these very thoughts are real, and we need to feel good about having Syrian bloggers who depict the majority of the Syrian society, cause without them, we ourselves, won’t be real anymore, we will think that Syria is fine, everything is fine, and we won’t be able to touch a bit of what is not so fine about us.

Razan is right – until these topics are broached, they remain underground, silent.  As soon as they are raised, whether in opposition or not, they become real, a part of the fabric, something worthy of discussion.

Now, I need to take a step back, because I am an outsider – most certainly to Syria, but also to Morocco, which this post will eventually be about.  Yes, I lived there for two years, and yes, have had very intimate relationships and friendships with Moroccans, but I feel the need to place a caveat on this post: I am not Muslim, I am not Moroccan, and so my views are stated as such – as a citizen of the world, a believer in freedom of justice, and as myself.

That said, here goes: I read today that Morocco is cracking down on homosexual activity.  My first thoughts upon reading the article were very angry, reactionary.  I singled out this quote in particular:

“Homosexuality is copied from Western movies, TV shows, and porn channels that promote such practices, and which are, in turn, adversely reflected on younger generations who follow suit, unaware of the consequences,” added university student Mohamed Zahi.

That quote is what I want to discuss, because I realize that the Qur’an, like the Bible and like the Torah, and I’m sure like many other holy books, forbids homosexuality (at least by most interpretations).  I recognize that Moroccans, the majority of whom are raised with some degree of Islam or another at home, are brought up to oppose homosexuality on religious grounds.  That is reality.

What is not reality, however, and will never be, is that homosexuality is an import.  The same argument was made by Syrian bloggers: that homosexuality is an unnatural effect of a freewheeling society.  I will say it once: it is not.  Homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexualism, transgenderism, queerness, and anything else on the spectrum are acts of nature.  While we can control our actions, as many homosexuals raised in religious communities feel forced to, we cannot control who we fall in love with, who we are attracted to.

But rather than waste time debunking myths that have been debunked thousands of times (including here, in Anas’s fantastic post), I would rather say this: A society cannot progress by restricting freedom, as Morocco continues to do.  Morocco is a hypocritical nation: it gives equity to women one minute by allowing them to pass Moroccan nationality to their children, but refuses to do anything about its vast child labor problems.  It grants the freedom of the press to photograph the princess and her children, but places shackles on journalists for telling a few jokes.  And now, in the same breath, Morocco is clamping down on sexual and religious freedoms as it tries to push ahead economically.

Of the many reasons I left Morocco, the most poignant was that I never once felt, as a woman, equal.  Not once.  Not in my job where, despite my equal salary and equal teaching schedule, I was still sexually harassed by a fellow teacher.  Not on the street where it was a miracle if I could walk two blocks without being whistled at (didn’t matter if I wore hijab!).  Not in shops, where if I were with a man, he would always be deferred to even if I were the one paying.

People back home aren’t wont to listen to such complaints, thinking them the burdens of a Muslim society.  But I know better: that isn’t Islam.  That’s a society repressed to the point of explosion.

10 Comments

  1. Hey Jillian

    Why should you care the homosexuals in Morocco?
    It is good to know that you are raising your voice for Moroccan Homosexuals.
    Why dont you go to Palestine ans see the plight of ophans and widows killed by Zio terroists?
    You Westerners on one hand speak about freedom opf speech and on the oterh hand oversight Chistian Philippines policies in Mindanao. Don’t teach the world the lesson of hunmanity. Look within and try to reform your supermacist community that drops drones in Iraq and Afghanistan. To kill one person whom you call terroists you kill 20- 30 innocent children and women in one go.
    Please dont spend your time in Morocco. Travle Palestine, meet the victims of US backed Zio Fascism.

    • Excuse me? Why SHOULDN’T I care? I lived in Morocco for over two years and have friends there suffering under inane policies. I’m close to this issue.

      And for the record, I DO speak out against Zionuts. If you had read my blog before today, you would know that. I can’t go to Palestine right now, I have Syrian stamps in my passport.

      Seriously – read my blog before commenting, and don’t judge me and assume I agree with anything the United States does. You have no idea of the work I do.

    • Oh Human(s),

      First of all, why is it when anyone points to anything wrong someone has to stand up and say “but look over there, look at all the crap going on there..” we GET it. Just because someone speaks against one mistake doesn’t mean the they condone or are oblivious to other problems or injustices! so enough of that BS please.

      Second, how can you judge someone you know nothing about.. Jillian was one of the most active speakers on the Palestinian plight during the war on Gaza, she went to rallies and I know for a fact that she donated for the relief efforts. And please, [us] Arabs did the Palestinian cause much harm than any “Westerner” could ever do, let’s not kid ourselves.

      Would you please fix that generalizing conspiracy theorist attitude of yours, this only helps create enemies of the few friends we might actually have. And since when someone living under a government becomes automatically supportive of whatever policies or actions it takes.

      I know I offended you, but I wasn’t even close to your level.

  2. Jillian, my first visit to your blog, although your style seems to be that of the Jillian I enjoy at Kabobfest, sa7?

    I was crushed to hear of the linking of gay men and honor killing in Iraq this week. I’ll need to follow up on Razan’s blog, who I discovered through the intensifying of the honor killing buzz we had in Jordan a couple weeks ago.

    I can so relate to your experiences as a foreign women, as well as the denial of all taboos.

    I work with victims of child sexual abuse, especially incestuous abuse. Everywhere I go it is claimed that sexual abuse/incest is a Western import. I point them to the Code of Hammurabi, forbidding incest (if there was a law against it, it was happening) and the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon. Same old story, it’s just that 4,000 years later it’s worse: Tamar would be killed for her brother’s act.

    Violence against women is a human issue, not region-specific. And as you noted in your comment, at least the laws in the West protect us.

    • Ha, you caught me. I am the same Jillian indeed (though I always sort of figured everyone knew :)

      One of my biggest frustrations with that part of the world is the constant blaming of the West for society’s ills. I don’t deny that certain evils (rampant capitalism) can be blamed on the West, if not the US alone, but incest? Rape? Ridiculous.

      Well, and yes -the laws here are at least meant to protect us, even if they fail half the time. I’ll say it without saying it.

  3. Thank you so much for this post.I have just two remarks. you didn’t tell us your point of view regarding homosexuality. And if homosexuality in Morocco is not an import, how do you explain it?
    I wish you all the best. regards

  4. My point of view? It’s human nature. It’s certainly not an import; although it’s against the principles of Islam for sure, its practice pre-dates Islam, Christianity, Judaism…the feelings, the behavior, are natural. It is religion and its patronizing morality which inhibit it.

  5. Thanks Jilian for showing sympathy with Palestinians.
    One think I haven’t undestood ‘Why Israel and Serbia are never temed as Terroists States’.
    How mercilessly Israel kills innocent Palestinians, how ruthlessly Serb Christians raped 50000 innocent girls including 5 yeas old baby. Whatever crimes they commited under Christianity/Judaism are temed as war crimes but not Christian/Zionists bararism. Why people like you are so ineffective when it comes to crimes backed by Westerners. Where is freedom of religion?I don’t say you are with them but you should raise effective voice to prove Serbs/Zionists hadcore inhumane barbars.

  6. I think Morocco IS NOT an Islamic country because some people have sex, and they are not punished according to Islamic law.

  7. There no such thing as Gay or Homosexual in Islam; there Louti.
    I love men instead of women, but I am not Louti. I have never had sex in my life, and i do not want to even if i want because when I have sex with someone, I will directly harm myself, and indirectly harm the other. There are many people who love men but they want to change into loving women, but they, of course, can not do that on their own. Any form of help will be appreciated.

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