The trial of two minors accused of homosexuality by the Moroccan justice began Friday in Marrakech, and will continue on December 9.
According to one of their lawyers, Rachid Al Ghorfi, the two girls aged 16 and 17 were presented to a judge of the court of first instance in the morning.
“They denied the charges that they had a homosexual relationship, and said that their relationship was friendly,” Ghorfi told AFP.
The two teenage girls were arrested on October 28, after someone photographed them “kissing and hugging on the roof of a house”, and sent the picture to the family who informed the police.
After a week’s detention, they were subsequently released on bail.
Their lawyers are debating “the philosophy of article 489 of the Moroccan Penal Code”, which criminalizes “licentious or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex”, and pointed to its “contradiction with the International protocols signed by Morocco and the Moroccan Constitution,” Ghorfi stated.
“The judge fixed December 9 for them to enter a plea,” he added.
The two girls face between six months and three years in prison if found guilty.
Some 20 associations including the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) had condemned their arrest.
“These two girls could be imprisoned simply for showing affection towards each other,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch said.
“The Moroccan authorities should lift the charges against them and stop prosecuting individuals for private acts engaged with mutual consent,” she added in a statement issued Friday.
Arrests for homosexuality are common and human rights associations are calling for the repeal of article 489 of the penal code.
This case is the first involving homosexual women.