Two men who were attacked by a homophobic mob in Morocco have had their trauma compounded by being prosecuted and jailed for homosexuality.
Meanwhile, their assailants have gotten off with lighter penalties.
Last month, a shocking video emerged of the bloodied men, believed to be a couple, being assaulted by five others, armed with knives, in their home in the city of Beni Mellal.
The victims were further humiliated after they were forced naked into the streets by their attackers who posted the video on social media.
Shockingly, the victims have suffered additional state sanctioned abuse after one was charged and found guilty of homosexuality. He was sentenced to four months in prison and given a fine of 500 Moroccan dirhams (around R800 / US$52).
The second man was also arrested and is set to be tried next week on similar charges.
According to reports, thus far, only two of the attackers have been prosecuted and received a two-month suspended prison sentence for breaking into the couple’s house.
ALLOUT and Moroccan group Aswat Collectif have launched an online petition addressed to Morocco’s minister of justice and minister of the interior, demanding that the couple be freed.
The petition calls on the ministers “to release these two men immediately and unconditionally, and properly investigate this homophobic attack to bring the perpetrators to justice”.
Aswat reports that: “Resistance against this case is growing in the country. If we can amplify these voices of protest with a huge, global outcry, we might be able to get these innocent men free.”
This is not the first video of an anti-LGBTI mob attack to come out of Morocco. In June 2015 an LGBT individual was brutally beaten on camera in the streets of the city of Fez.
While he condemned the actions of the assailants, Morocco’s justice minister at the time also blamed the victim for “provoking” his assailants with his gender non-conforming appearance.
Male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Morocco, with penalties ranging from six months to three years in jail, as well as the imposition of fines.