Moroccan LGBT asylum requests on rise after lesbian persecution

Penalties facing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Morocco are leading to an increase in LGBT asylum requests in the Netherlands.  Today two girls age 16 and 17 are in court n Marrakesh for a kiss and cuddle in public, AD reports.

"There are more and more requests from LGBT people from Morocco who ended up in trouble, Sandro Kortekaas, president of Asylum Support, said to the newspaper. Asylum Support is a volunteer organization that supports foreign LGBT people apply for asylum in the Netherlands. 

In September the number of asylum applications from Morocco doubled - 283 in September, compared to 128 in August. Morocco was designated a safe country early this year. This means that Moroccan asylum seekers have virtually no chance of getting refugee status in the Netherlands, unless they are LGBT.

"We worked hard for that exception",, Philip Tijsma, spokesperson for gay interest organization COC, said to the newspaper. He rejects the claim that MOroccans are now flocking to the Netherlands, claiming to be gay to get asylum. "Asylum seekers from countries where LGBT people have a bad position are often terrified to say that the are LGBT, because they fear they will encounter their compatriots in asylum centers and thus still have problems."

The two teenage lesbians in Moroccan court today can face a prison sentence of up to three years. But international media attention should help reduce this, gay activist Hakim Sikouk said to the newspaper. According to him, this has happened in the past.