At least one individual is said to have committed suicide after a popular LGBTQ Instagram influencer encouraged other women to out gay men in Morocco.
According to Insider, Naoufal Moussa, a Moroccan transgender woman who lives in Turkey and is known online as Sofia Talouni, last week urged her 600,000 followers to download dating and hookup apps.
In an Instagram live video, she explained how her fans could use apps like Grindr, Planet Romeo and Hornet to see who might be secretly gay or bisexual, in a region in which LGBTQ people could face arrest, discrimination and violence.
“These apps will show you the people who are near to you. 100 meters, 200 meters, even just one meter, just next to you in the living room,” Moussa said in the video. “It could show you your husband in your bedroom, it could show you your son who might be in the bathroom.”
She has been quoted as saying: “I feel bad for those f*ggots but I don’t care,” and: “You girls should create fake profiles and choose that you’re bottoms… Which means you want someone to f**k you.”
It’s understood that some of her followers have since posted images of men they found on the apps on social media. According to reports, at least one 21-year-old man has taken his own life after being outed as a result of the video.
While Moussa has been accused of inciting a witchhunt by some, it’s been suggested that her intention was not to harm gay men but was a misguided attempt to respond to transphobic online critics by showing them that LGBTQ people are more common than they might think.
Moussa’s Instagram account has been suspended but for many, it is too late, leaving them living in terror of what could happen next.
One 19-year-old Morrocan man told PinkNews: “I woke up to my friends’ and people I know’s pictures all over Facebook with the most horrible and homophobic captions. I was in a constant state of fear and panic wondering if my pictures were there too, and when will this reach my parents.”
In a statement, feminist LBTQ group Nassawiyat said that by helping to reveal the identity of queer Moroccans Moussa had put them “at great risk” and called on the authorities to suspend her social media accounts.
Both Grindr and PlanetRomeo told Insider that they had taken precautions after being informed of the crisis. “As we learned of the troubling reports in Morocco, we responded quickly with warning messages in both the Moroccan dialect of Arabic and French to let our users know to take extra caution at this time,” said a Grindr spokesperson.
Male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Morocco under article 489 of the penal code, with penalties ranging from six months to three years in jail, as well as fines. According to Human Rights Watch, Moroccan courts often rely on confessions coerced by the police to convict people accused of homosexuality.