Exclusive: British man jailed for ‘homosexual acts’ in Morocco

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PinkNews Exclusive
A gay British man has been arrested in Morocco and charged with committing homosexual acts.

Ray Cole, 69, a retired magazine publisher from Deal in Kent, was on holiday in Marrakesh last month to visit a Moroccan man, Jamal Jam Wald Nass.

However, on September 18 the pair were approached at a bus stop by police officers, and were detained on the grounds of suspected homosexuality.

Mr Cole’s son Adrian Cole told PinkNews that the Moroccan authorities failed to notify his family or the British Consulate of the arrest, and Mr Cole was feared missing for nearly a week before he was eventually able to get in contact.

Both Mr Cole and Mr Jam Wald Nass were sentenced to four months in prison on October 2, when police searched Mr Cole’s mobile phone and found a photograph of the two men together, which was used in court as ‘proof’ of homosexual acts.

Adrian Cole said: “The trial was a complete farce, it was just farcical.

“They’ve gone through his phone and found photographs that they’re using as evidence for a homosexual act.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office told PinkNews: “We can confirm the detention of a British national in Morocco. We are providing consular assistance.”

Homosexuality is still a crime in Morocco, with a maximum possible sentence of 3 years, with Adrian Cole noting “it could have been a lot worse”.

Mr Cole also reports that his father is being kept in an overcrowded cell in “bleak” conditions, and is sleeping on a concrete floor.

He added: “It’s really rough, he’s in with paedophiles and murders and people who have committed shocking crimes.

“The Consulate tried to visit him but were initially turned way, and told he had refused to see them. But when we spoke to him, he didn’t know anything about it.

The prison where Mr Cole is being held

“He’s had a couple of minor strokes before and has a minor heart condition. He has also been suffering with depression, which the court didn’t take into account.

“Why they haven’t just deported him no one seems to be able to be able to explain.

“We have been working with the Foreign and Commonwealth office, but of course they cannot change the law.”

Adrian, who is also gay, added that he risked his own safety to travel out to Morocco for the trial, because authorities could not guarantee he would be protected.

He said: “I’m gay and no one gave me any guarantees that I could go out and see my father.

“People don’t know how dangerous this place is. They’re a tourist driven economy.

“They rely on tourists like my father. They then decide to judge you and your life and may or may not treat you in this fashion.”

The family say they are currently planning to appeal the ruling to try and secure Ray Cole’s release.

Social media users have taken to Twitter and Facebook to condemn Mr Cole’s treatment, and Adrian thanked them for their “overwhelming” support.