Homosexual Convictions of Six Moroccans Upheld

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A Moroccan appeals court Jan. 15 upheld the convictions of six men from Ksar el Kbir who were jailed for homosexual acts in late November after a YouTube video showing them at a supposed gay-wedding celebration provoked public outrage.

The 10-month sentence against the party's alleged organizer, who also was charged with selling alcohol, was upheld in full, while the other five men saw their sentences reduced from between four and six months to between two and four months.

Amnesty International says the men are prisoners of conscience, and the men's lawyers claim that prosecutors have presented no evidence that any crime took place.

Morocco's Penal Code Article 489 bans “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex” under penalty of six months to three years in prison and a fine of $15 to $150.

Human Rights Watch has said the men were convicted “without apparent evidence.”

“The men's rights to privacy and freedom of expression have been violated,” said North Africa programs director Sarah Leah Whitson. “They should be set free.”

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