PinkNews Exclusive
Peter Tatchell has defended his Foundation auctioning a holiday to Morocco, where a gay British man was jailed earlier this year for ‘homosexual acts.’

Ray Cole, 70, a retired magazine publisher from Deal in Kent, was imprisoned in Morocco in October, during a holiday to visit a Moroccan man, Jamal.

Mr Cole, who was released following a pressure campaign, remains strongly critical of Morocco, and described his 20-day experience in the jail as like “a concentration camp”.

Despite the incident, the Peter Tatchell Foundation is this week auctioning a “five night holiday for two people” in Marrakesh as part of a charity fundraiser.

Mr Tatchell – who previously spoke out against the “tyranny” of the country’s anti-gay laws – defended the auction.

He told PinkNews: “We wouldn’t support holidays in countries that are severely repressive of gay people, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Uganda or Nigeria, but the arrest of Ray Cole and his partner was exceptional.

“No one can recall any similar incident involving gay Western holiday makers. Thousands of LGBT people go on holiday to Morocco without any problem.

“We do support efforts to decriminalise homosexuality, and ensure new legislation in Morocco to protect LGBT people against discrimination and hate crime.

“There is a growing LGBTQ community in Morocco that has been positively supported by European residents in the country, and those who visit as tourists. These Western contacts are welcomed by many gay Moroccans.

“The holiday was kindly donated by a British gay rights activist who lives part of the year in Morocco – he donated his house. No one chose Morocco.”

However, Mr Cole said: “I think you’d be very well advised to stay well away from Morocco.

“Personally I’d be frightened to ever go there again. They are intrinsically homophobic.”

Other offers up for auction include a copy of Stephen Fry’s new book ‘More Fool Me’, a twelve month subscription to Gaydar, and a signed art piece by Polyp featuring a satirical ‘Homophobes of the World Unite’ banner.

Hotel searches for Marrakesh reportedly fell by 46%, just one week after the news broke of Ray Cole’s imprisonment in October.