In an October 3, 2019 interview on Hespress Internet TV (Morocco), Moroccan MP Omar Balafrej said that Morocco should follow the example of Turkey and certain other countries and not criminalize intimate relations between consenting adults, including homosexuals, because the state should respect individual privacy. In addition, Balafrej said that the punishment for pedophilia should be very severe and that he views child rape to be equivalent to murder. In an October 11, 2019 interview on France 24 Arabic TV, Balafrej criticized Morocco for suffocating people's liberties. He argued that many middle- and upper-class young people leave Morocco because of the lack of personal and collective liberties.
Following are excerpts:
Omar Balafrej on October 3, 2019: Neither Egypt, nor Tunisia, nor Turkey, criminalize intimate relations between consenting adults, yet we in Morocco follow an [old] penal code we inherited from France that criminalizes relations between consenting [adults]. I’m all for protecting society and I support sexual education for children. As far as I am concerned, sexual relations should come after adulthood. I think that it is normal for a person over 18 to have intimate relations, which can lead to marriage if the couple so wishes, and the law should not punish adults for having intimate relations. I believe that respecting the citizen is a basic principle. If I give full citizenship to all the citizens, I must respect their wisdom. This is politics without hypocrisy. Anyone who follows current affairs in Morocco knows that the average age of marriage is 28. What does this mean? Does this mean that people aged 18 to 28 must not have sex, lest they go to prison?
People confuse homosexuality with pedophilia. There was a request to increase the punishments for pedophilia, and [some] even called for life sentences. We must protect the children…
Interviewer: The punishment now is 10-15 years?
Omar Balafrej: Ten years. This is not enough. A person gets 10 years for raping a child, and after seven or eight years he can get out of jail? No. I consider child rape to be equivalent to murder. On the other hand, you have two consenting adults, in their private space… Are we supposed to interrupt them in the privacy of their homes? If two men sit together in a house – are we meant to arrest them for being homosexual? No! It is none of my business.
Interviewer: So the state shouldn’t interfere in intimate relations in private spaces?
Omar Balafrej: Exactly. The issue of homosexuality is very important, because various countries – mainly, but not only, Islamic countries – deal with this issue in different ways. The Taliban, for example, kill them, according to their law. It is the same as the Nazis in Germany, who used to kill and burn homosexuals. There are countries that imprison them. Unfortunately, this is also the law in Morocco. Other countries accept homosexuality and do not criminalize it, as long as it is practiced in private spaces. One of these countries is Turkey. Some people keep saying that we should follow the Turkish model. So let’s follow Turkey in this aspect of respect for minorities.
On October 11, 2019: It turns out that personal liberties constitute a priority [in Morocco]. Unfortunately, we live in a suffocating society – suffocating socially and economically, but also in terms of personal liberties. Look at the number of young people from the middle class who emigrate to Europe. Why do they emigrate to Europe? There are even rich people who emigrate to Europe. They do not do it only for economic reasons. There are people who emigrate for economic reasons, but there are many who do so because of this suffocation, due to the lack of personal and collective liberties.