Openly gay Tory MP Nigel Evans has announced that he will be taking the case of the British citizen jailed in Morocco after being convicted of engaging in ‘homosexual acts’ straight to the desk of the Moroccan Ambassador.
Ray Cole, a 69 year old retired magazine publisher from Kent was visiting a friend in Marrakesh last month when he was arrested for performing illegal ‘homosexual acts’. On Thursday he was found guilty and sentenced to four months in prison, alongside the man he was in the country visiting, a Mr Jamal Jam Wald Nass.
Nigel Evans, MP for Ribble Valley and former Deputy Speaker, revealed in an interview, ‘I am astounded that Ray Cole has been convicted of homosexual acts. I have been to Morocco on a few occasions and I find it a lovely, and vibrant country. Morocco attracts thousands of UK visitors every year and a fair whack of them will be gay. I deplore the fact that Mr Cole is spending any time in a jail there.’
‘I call upon MPs from Morocco to look again at the way they are treating gay people. Do they really want their country associated with such archaic laws, and do they really think it is wise to lock someone up for four months for something that is legal in so many countries around the world?’
‘As a gay MP who sits with so many other gay MPs in the UK I will be writing to the Moroccan ambassador and asking her to convey to His Majesty a plea from the gay community in the UK to release this man in order that he can return to the UK as soon as possible.’
Nigel Evans is not alone in his public condemnation of the ruling, Charlie Elphicke, the Conservative member for Dover, said earlier, ‘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.’
Morocco now has to face the decision of whether or not it wishes to release Mr Cole or face serious backlash and possibly even economic and diplomatic consequences. At the very least Morocco will surely surer a decrease in income from tourism as members of the LGBT community and their supporters will be thinking twice about visiting a country with frankly medieval laws on homosexuality.