Mapping Queer Resistance in Morocco

By Hanane Idihoum
Submitted to Session S6704 (CUMES Undergraduate Research Poster Presentation, 2021 Annual Meeting
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Morocco has seen a growing number of feminist and queer advocacy groups organizing and forming alliances with other North African collectives. Although their activism strategies and platforms vary, one common theme has been the calling for the abolishment of French colonial law article number 489 of the penal code, which criminalizes same-sex relationships and describes them as: “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex” . Queer Organizations also occupy the position of the primary producers of knowledge on queer sexualities in Morocco. Doing so, these organizations find themselves operating within a hegemonic discourse on sexuality, and are often trapped between two narratives. First, the narrative that views Europe as a secular progressive refuge for queers, and second, the narrative that posits that queers suffer under a culturally oppressive Muslim Morocco. My research maps the scene of queer resistance and organizing in Morocco. I aim to situate the changing representations of queerness in Morocco within the discourses of sexuality in the region dictated by the geopolitical location of the Kingdom (neighboring Europe), the legacy of colonialism it had suffered, and current neoliberalism. I argue that the current discourse on queerness in Morocco that prioritizes a cultural critique at the expense of a socio-economic and postcolonial one conceals the heterogeneity of the queer communities in Morocco and ignores a class critique of injustice in the country. The research will draw from interviews with several leaders of the organizations and will examine and unveil the history of queer activism in Morocco, the challenges, and the struggle for liberation. The research begins with a survey of the number of organizations in Morocco, their geographical distribution, their funding, and the networks they are part of. It also examines the legal framework under which they operate in addition to their visions, objectives, activities, and the services they offer.