Sunday, 12 October 2014

Morocco: Unbound

A British man flew home from Marrakech last week after being jailed for 'homosexual acts'. There was a time though when Morocco was renowned as a haven for gay Americans and Britons who fled restrictions in their own countries to take advantage of its relaxed atmosphere...

BBC News Magazine follow in the dusty footprints of Bowles, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Orton et al.

Although some think the writers were rebelling against a soulless, suburban McCarthyite America, [John] Hopkins says it was more straightforward. "They were after boys and drugs. That's what drew them. The Moroccans were charming, attractive, intelligent and tolerant. They had to put up with a lot from us."

So why did Morocco, an ostensibly devout Islamic country, allow homosexuality to thrive? The author Barnaby Rogerson says it is a society that is full of paradoxes.

"It is... a place where all the four different cornerstones of culture: Berber-African, Mediterranean, Arabic or Islamic, share an absolute belief in the abundant sexuality of all men and women, who are charged with a sort of personal volcano of 'fitna', which threatens family, society and state with sexually derived chaos at any time," he says. The word fitna, he suggests, "means something like 'charm, allure, enchantment, temptation, dissent, unrest, riot, rebellion' or all of these at the same time."

Joe Orton, pictured in 1967, with a helpful young tour-guide.

That intro is so silly though. 

Morocco is still a haven for gay American and British tourists.

The arrests of Ray Cole and his often forgotten friend Jamal Wald Nass for 'homosexual acts' last week were exceptional.

That is why they - or rather the British Cole's - were so newsworthy. 

It is ridiculous to suggest men are routinely arrested just for having gay sex, or that there is some homophobic clampdown going on. 

Can you tell me the last time a British or American gay tourist was arrested?

1 comment:

  1. "Berber-African, Mediterranean, Arabic or Islamic": that adds up to three cornerstones of culture, not four like the article says. Surprised anyone missed this.