Two Moroccan men who were assaulted in a bloody homophobic attack and then, in a shocking travesty of justice, jailed for homosexuality have been released.
The victims had earlier received four month jail sentences for “acts against nature” and “sexual deviancy”.
According to AFP, the men were freed on Monday by a court in the city of Beni Mellal in central Morocco following international outrage at their prosecution.
Last month, a shocking video emerged of the bloodied men being assaulted by five assailants armed with knives, in their home.
The victims were further humiliated after they were forced naked into the streets by their attackers who posted the video on social media.
On Monday, two of the attackers were jailed; one for six months and the other for four months. Two others were acquitted of the attack and a fifth will be tried as a minor.
Two topless female French activists attempted to stage a protest against homophobia outside the court while around 100 locals demanded the release of the criminals.
RT reported that the women, from the group FEMEN, were quickly arrested and taken away by undercover police. They were later deported for attempting to “damage public morals”.
The incident has intensified calls for the country to repeal its criminalisation of same-sex sexual activity, which carries penalties ranging from six months to three years in jail, as well as the imposition of fines.
This is not the first video of an anti-LGBTI mob attack to come out of Morocco. In June 2015, an LGBTI individual was brutally beaten on camera in the streets of the city of Fez.
While he condemned the actions of the assailants at the time, Morocco’s justice minister also blamed the victim for “provoking” the assailants by having a gender non-conforming appearance.