Two teenage girls who faced three years in jail for ‘hugging and kissing’ have been acquitted
A Morrocan judge has acquitted two teenage girls who were on trial after it was alleged they had been caught kissing.
Aged just 16 and 17, the girls were detained for a week after being arrested in October on suspicion of “taking part in licentious or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex”.
They were initially released on bail, but they have now been “released definitively into the custody of their parents”, their defence lawyer told AFP.
Had they been found guilty, the pair could have faced between six months and three years in prison.
Moroccan law penalises acts of “sexual deviancy” between members of the same sex – a term used by authorities in the country to refer to homosexuality more generally.
The girls had denied being in a sexual relationship and said they were just friends.
Their arrest was denounced widely by human rights groups, including the Morrocan Association of Human Rights, which appointed a lawyer to defend the girls.
Although many men have been arrested and imprisoned under the laws, this case was believed to be the first in which female minors were being prosecuted for homosexuality in Morocco.
Earlier this year two Moroccan men were arrested after a video of them kissing caused outrage after it was posted online.
In February two male youths were jailed for a year and a half after they were caught kissing each other.
Last year, campaigners condemned the jailing of two men accused of consensual same-sex activity in Morocco.