Thursday, April 22, 2010

On a gay mag...

Try mentioning homosexuality or gays rights to a Moroccan and in 99% of cases he or she will seem to develop a violent, sudden and virulent rash or look at you as if you just grew a second head. It's one of those universal truths that everyone seems to believe here, without ever stopping to think about it. Another widespread belief is that homosexuality is a new illness that didn't exist in a glorious idyllic past and that somehow it's responsible for every symptom of our backwardness.. go figure how is this possible. It's not a secret, Moroccan society is thoroughly homophobic.
Even mentioning the subject makes you suspect, and in fact any accusation of being homosexual or sympathetic to the cause is sufficient to discredit anything you say do or advocate for. Indulging in a same-sex intercourse is illegal and punishable by fines and imprisonment.
Fortunately for gay people, the authorities are unwilling, or unable, to enforce the law. Policemen have better things to do than monitor who you take or not to your bed.
But every once and again, the press, led by islamists and populists, makes a fuss about an incident or other to boost sales or a political agenda, and pressure the authorities to crack down on gay friendly places or individuals, which they do to appease the ogre.
Meanwhile, people continue to meet, love, and yes fornicate too with internet and mobile phones to facilitate it like everywhere else in he world, including gay people.
Is this a bad situation? on the face of it seems very bad indeed, but considering how much worse it can be (and is elsewhere)it's not quite that bad. However it's a fragile enough equilibrium not to mess with lightly (that is if you want to preserve it).
I myself wish for abolishing discriminations based on beliefs, life style, gender or sexual orientation, and don't care less who's in bed with whom, as long as all parties are adults and consenting. So i find it frustrating when something like "Morocco's First Gay Online Magazine" is all over the web. As expected, when discussed in english or French commentators are quite liberal and supportive, and when it's discussed in Arabic the exact contrary. Actually Moroccans commenting on it are embarrassed at best tring dissociate themselves from this abomination or violently condemn it joining commentators from other Arab countries lamenting how decadent Morocco has become. And of course the article will be copied and past on every forum and blog with the usual and appropriate condemnation in Arabic sies and hailing from LGBT related sites.
What frustrates me is this is exactly the kind of opportunity afore mentioned populists and islamists love. I don't buy newspapers but i imagine every self proclaimed moralist will be exhorting the authorities to do "something" soon.
If all that was anything new, especially bold or brave or simply aiming toward a real, identified goal, it would be worth it, but it's not.
The view from Fez, quoted by global voices, find that it's "It's a brave move". Actually no, it's not brave nor even new. There were a lot of Moroccan LGBT forums and blogs out there, sometimes interesting, sometimes not. I admit I never came about something as structured or prettily done as that website and webmag, but the concept is similar to Lebanese Helem, and that was launched (whih similar publicity came to think of it) years ago.
The webmag is aimed to the LGBT community, which amounts to preaching to converts. I feel that targeting a broader audience would be more useful if the goal is really reaching to everyone and furthering knowledge and understanding. Gay rights are tied to a long list of other issues, including political participation, discrimination, individual rights, speech freedom, gender equality, minorities rights and human rights at large, and it's not the most important nor the most pressing issue.
Furthermore, there is really nothing to be done to change the law. Supposing Morocco was a democracy (which is not, obviously) advocating for gay rights would be a political suicide. And why should the government poke that wasps nest when there's no incentive to do so, let's say a big juicy carrot like European adhesion that would justify the trouble... Any change toward a more tolerant society won't be realistic before all the other issues are addressed.
I also happen to dislike the way this NGO is run. KifKif is registered in Spain, by Moroccans living in Europe who can count on their foreign passports to protect them. I don' know if legally it is possible to do so in Morocco, but challenging that ban, if it exists, would further speech freedom. It's also exactly the kind of weak spots fuelling accusations of foreign (christian, atheist, you name it) corruption of our pure society, how this is an imported disease and all "Islam is in danger" rhetoric and conspiracy theories.
At Helem in Lebanon they are engaged in a legal bras de fer that could breach a way for legally recognized (or tolerated) LGBT NGOs. At least they try something useful. All I can see here is that it's a way to get funding from LGBT militants in Europe, serving no one but KifKif's people.
Do I make any sense here? Bottom line I just feel it's useless and possibly counter-productive, but yeah, who am I to criticize anyway?!


  1. I still love your style :) And yes, it does make sense.

    These manufactured controversies get everyone stirred up in predictable ways, serve the self-promotion interests of a few people, and meanwhile, the people on the ground still have to live their lives.


    And as you say, the foundation isn't there — there are other pressing issues to deal with first.

    Thanks for putting it out there!

  2. It's comforting to know hat you found your way back to this bolg-in-dormance

    And it's good to be told something nice ^^