On the Road to Morocco…

Morocco is a popular gay and lesbian tourist destination in northwestern Africa but there’s a caveat. More on this later. Long before Bing, Bob and Dorothy were sold into slavery back in the 1942 movie romp, Morocco was a land rich in history and gay travelers came to explore ancient ruins, take camel rides across the desert, and bargain as best they could with rug and spice traders in open air marketplaces. Today, lodging to satisfy all tastes and budgets is plentiful. Locals have converted traditional homes into tourist lodging, called riad, providing travelers with a traditional Moroccan experience.

For lovers of history and architecture, Morocco is a traveler’s paradise. Exquisite Muslim mosques and ancient Roman ruins beckon to be explored. High on ‘to see’ lists  are the Dar Si Said Museum in Marrakech, the souks (markets) that wind through the Fes Medina, the art deco architecture of Casablanca and the ancient walls of Tangier.

Morocco is a country that truly appeals to all the senses. The colors and aromas of the spice markets, the hypnotic swaying of the snake charmers, the exquisite wall coverings of the mosques, the stretches of beautiful beaches and the endless undulations of the surrounding deserts are all here to be relished.

Morocco is a conservative Muslim country and has no scene to speak of. In days gone by, jet setting American and European socialites, writers and musicians flocked to Morocco because of its free and easy acceptance of the gay life style. However, openness has changed. In recent years Muslim leadership has pushed the country back to observing the strict moral code of Islam, one which does not tolerate homosexuality. In 1962, homosexuality was deemed a criminal offence and remains so today. Same-sex conduct is punishable by fines of six months to three years in prison. In a 2009 statement, the Moroccan government reasserted that homosexuality would not be tolerated and would be repressed and the laws enforced. As a result, gay and lesbian travelers should be particularly aware of their surroundings when in public, use discretion and common sense, remember that they are guests in a conservative Muslim country and to respect their laws and religion.

So, if you’re looking for a vacation offering adventure, relaxation, history, culture and a truly unique experience, Morocco has plenty to offer the gay and lesbian traveler. Pink Choice lists several gay friendly hotels in Marrakech, but is looking for more member reviews. If you have visited Morocco please post a review of your accommodation experience  for the benefit of other gay and lesbian travelers who follow on.

Gay in Morocco- A statement by Bram Vergeer

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