British gay couple ‘banned’ from Moroccan hotel
A gay couple have claimed were banned from going on their first holiday together to Morocco because of their sexuality.
Morgan Hughes, 23, and Lloyd Innes, 28, booked a double room at the Eden Andalou Spa and Resort hotel in Marrakech.
Unaware that homosexuality is illegal in Morocco, the couple say they checked with holiday provider British Airways that their relationship status would not prove a problem.
A month later, however, they were contacted by British Airways and told that they would be unable to share a room due to their sexuality and would have to book an additional room if they still wished to stay at the hotel.
Mr Hughes told the Mail Online, “They [BA] said the hotel had got back in contact with them and told them that if we turned up they wouldn’t let us check in. I didn’t receive any apology whatsoever from British Airways and the hotel won’t speak to us directly.
“I wouldn’t think of myself as naive, but I have never seen my sexuality as an issue and now, it feels like something was taken away from us, for something that is completely out of our control.”
Homosexuality is still seen as a crime in Morocco, with a maximum possible sentence of up to 3 years.
A spokesperson from British Airways said: “Subsequent to contacting Mr Innes and Mr Hughes, British Airways was advised that the booking that it had requested could not be accepted and that an additional room would have to be booked.
“We apologise that Mr Innes and Mr Hughes were left feeling disappointed. However, in recognising the inconvenience this would cause, we offered, and they accepted, a full refund.
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“We have also offered, as a goodwill gesture, to refund the additional expenses the customers incurred including airport parking and lounge access.
“Please note that as part of our terms and conditions we refer our customers to the Foreign and Commonwealth office website, offering country specific guidance on local law and customs.”
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Morocco. Be sensitive to local laws and customs and avoid public displays of affection. Complaints can lead to prosecution.”
Mr Cole was approached at a bus stop by police officers, and detained on the grounds of suspected homosexuality. He was sentenced to four months in prison after police searched his mobile phone and found a photograph of himself and a Moroccan partner – which was used in court as ‘proof’ of homosexual acts.
After a pressure campaign, both men were released pending appeal – with charges subsequently dropped. Upon release, Mr Cole described the inhumane conditions and treatment both he and his partner received, describing the prison as a “concentration camp”.