Amnesty International calls for immediate release of British man jailed for ‘homosexual acts’ in Morocco

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of Ray Cole, who has been jailed for ‘homosexual acts’ in Morocco.

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

On Thursday he was found guilty of ‘homosexual acts’ and sentenced to four months behind bars, alongside Mr Jam Wald Nass.

Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty UK, said: “Ray Cole should be released immediately. Homosexuality is not a crime.

“This is not the first time this year we have seen people in Morocco jailed purely on the basis of their sexuality.

“The fact that this case involves a British man throws and international spotlight on Morocco’s unacceptable penal code which criminalises homosexuality as well as sex outside of marriage.”

Charlie Elphicke, the Conservative member for Dover, said yesterday: “I urge people not to visit Morocco. If you go there you are at serious risk of facing trumped up charges for medieval crimes.

“The message is clear. Morocco is not safe for British tourists.”

Out Tory MP Nigel Evans has said he will take the case up with the Moroccan ambassador Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoui – the cousin of the country’s monarch, King Mohammed VI.

Labour’s LGBT envoy Michael Cashman has also condemned Morocco, telling PinkNews: “This man should be released immediately. If not, then the Morocaans must face the economic and diplomatic consequences that will follow.”

Mike Freer, Conservative Party Vice Chair and MP for Finchley and Golders Green, added: “Morocco needs to decide if it wants to be a modern, tolerant tourist welcoming country or not.

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