Two teenage girls in Morocco were arrested for kissing one another. The pair was identified as Sanaa, 16 and Hajar, 17. They now face up to three years imprisonment.
The two girls were kissing and hugging on a rooftop when a cousin saw them and snapped a photo. The cousin showed the photo to the mother of one of the girls, who promptly called the police.
The police arrested the girls and charged them with “licentious or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.” They were detained in an adult, rather than juvenile, detention center.
They have since been released but will stand trial.
Homosexuality is criminalized under article 489 of the Moroccan penal code. The case spurred activists and human rights organizations such as Morocco’s L’Union Feministe Libre to call on the government to repeal the law and demand and end to the persecution of homosexuals.
The Moroccan Association of Human Rights appointed a lawyer to defend the girls. “Individuals cannot be punished based on their sexual inclination” Moroccan Association of Human Rights spokesman Omar Arbib told CNN Arabic, calling on the Moroccan government to repeal the law.
Activists around the world are taking to social media to support the two girls using #FreeTheGirls.
Sign the petition to call on the Moroccan government to release the girls.