Welcome to the 15th installment in the ongoing Local Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight series. In these blog posts, we’ll explore how various countries around the world address diversity and inclusion in their culture and workplace.
Our newest spotlight country? Morocco, a country that celebrates its Independence Day on November 18.
Here are some things to know about diversity and inclusion in Morocco.
Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco, punishable by a fine and possible prison time from six months to three years.
Article 489 of Morocco’s Penal Code makes homosexuality illegal. Homosexual acts are considered “lewd and unnatural,” with punishment set at a fine and/or a prison term from six months to three years. According to Asylum.org, Article 489 is seldom enforced; however, it should be noted that homosexuality is against traditional Islamic morals and gender roles.
Same-sex civil unions and marriages are not recognized in Morocco.
Since homosexuality is illegal in Morocco, unions or marriages between same-sex couples are also outlawed.
The country’s constitution does not specifically protect LGBT individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Morocco’s constitution does not specifically protect LGBT individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The constitution does ban discrimination “toward anyone, because of gender, color, beliefs, culture, social or regional origin, language, handicap or whatever personal circumstance.”
Many LGBT individuals choose to keep their sexual orientation a secret, as those who come out may face an increased risk of harassment from police.
Homosexuality is publicly considered a sin or shame against Muslim morals.
Homosexuality is viewed as a taboo topic and is considered a shame or sin. Even so, homosexuality has a long history in Moroccan culture. Homosexuality is sometimes tolerated privately, especially in urban areas, but not publicly. LGBT individuals who come out may risk being rejected by their family and friends. Men and women are expected to marry and raise a family, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Amongst Moroccan men, homosexuality is considered to be relatively common, though not talked about. Lesbianism is not common or acknowledged.
Due to Morocco’s patriarchal society, homosexual men avoid being labeled as “gay.” The term “gay” applied to a man often implies femininity and weakness. In addition, the passive partner in same-sex activities is labeled “gay,” while the assertive partner is not considered to be a homosexual.
Hand-holding among people of the same gender is common and is not related to sexual orientation.
It is common to see platonic affection shared between Moroccan men — including holding hands, which often has nothing to do with sexual orientation, but rather is a sign of respect and friendship.
While some attitudes are changing, traditional gender dynamics still strongly influence Moroccan society.
Moroccan society’s attitudes toward women are changing, but family responsibilities are still the focus for young women in many Arab societies. As many women are obliged to prioritize their families over their careers, career advancement may not be a priority for the majority of Moroccan women.
Moroccan culture is patriarchal, and men dominate the business world. Men hold a significantly higher percentage of jobs than do women, especially in management, and there is a substantial earnings gap between men and women. It is difficult for women to establish a career in Morocco, but it is not impossible.
The biggest challenge women face in the Moroccan workplace is establishing credibility. Women generally need to struggle to prove themselves and gain the respect that many men take for granted.
More opportunities have recently become available to women, and today women are not just working in clerical and administrative roles. A significant portion of all doctors, lawyers, and university professors are women, and there are some women in senior management roles.
The King has passed laws that expand the rights of women. These laws have created opportunities for women from any class to participate in the business world.
Foreigners should not assume that a Moroccan woman wearing traditional clothing is very religious or that a woman in modern clothing is secular.
Many Moroccan women choose to wear the hijab (headscarf/veil). This is partially a reaction to the backlash against Muslims in recent decades. Foreigners should be careful not to make assumptions about a Moroccan’s religious views based on her manner of dress. Some veiled women are very pious, while others may primarily be asserting their identities as Muslim women.
Foreign businesswomen may face some challenges in gaining acceptance and building their credibility.
Foreign women in professional positions must often work to get the same recognition that men automatically receive, but they do not have to conform to the restrictions placed on Moroccan women. Foreign women are treated differently; they are considered a “third gender” since they are not required to adhere to the customs and traditions of Moroccan women.
If you are a business leader, dress formally and modestly at all times.
Also, adjust your clothing to local standards to avoid drawing attention to yourself.
Wearing local garments is acceptable as long as you are respectful. Dressing in Moroccan cultural garb can make it easier to get around in the evening without drawing attention to yourself.
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