The Moroccan Minister for Human Rights, Mustapha Ramid, has received criticism, after he called homosexuals “scum” last month.
Yesterday he refused to take back his words, justifying that his remarks were against homosexuality itself, rather than homosexual people.
So not much better then.
He first made the remarks after a meeting on torture prevention, when a journalist asked him for comment on the treatment of homosexuals in Morocco
“Why are you asking me about homosexuality too?” Ramid asked.
Trying to dismiss the journalist he continued “this is too much. Too much. It’s a shame that homosexuality has a value now. Why is everyone asking me about it?”
He then described homosexuals with the insulting Arabic word “Awsakh,” which translates to trash, dirt, or scum.
Ironically, this week, a museum devoted to Yves Saint Laurent, will be opened in Marrakesh, where the gay fashion designer did some of his most famous work.
After being criticised by many public figures and organisations Ramid made a long post on his Facebook page last night, attempting to justify his comments.
He argued that, as homosexuality is illegal in Morocco, his remarks should not be held to the standards of leaders in “Europe.”
He then tried to argue he was referring to the act of homosexuality, rather than homosexual people.
“If I have described homosexuality as dirt, it is in reference to homosexuality as such and not to the people who identify with it.”
He compared it to people who criticise death penalty, saying the government doesn’t take those complaints personally.
Many thought this to be an offensive analogy, since homosexuality is still punishable by death in four African states.
He stated that “the Moroccan government refuses categorically to decriminalize homosexuality,” but, paradoxically “”at the same time, it accepts no type of discrimination against any citizen.”
The Moroccan Association of Human Rights and the Association for the Fight against AIDS, among others, sent a petition to Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani, condemning Ramid’s words, saying he “encourages homophobia.”
“We consider that to qualify as ‘dirt’ of Moroccan citizens like any other citizen is a flagrant violation of the Moroccan constitution, which in its preamble adopts the commitment of the Moroccan State to human rights as recognized internationally,” the petition read.
Samira Sitail, the director of a Moroccan television channel also criticised Ramid.
“A minister of human rights who advocates hatred,” she said in a Facebook post.
“Dividing society, turning people against each other, stirring tensions and lashing out against people to detourn attention from the real issues that infect the Moroccan society.”
Ramid has been criticised for homophobia before. In 2015, when he was Justice Minister, he said in a radio interview that homosexuals should have a sex change if they want to obey the law.