Homosexuality is considered relatively common, though rarely acknowledged, amongst Moroccan men. Even though illegal and punishable with imprisonment, the lack of everyday integration between the sexes has lent itself to a general and subtle tolerance toward male effeminate behavior. Platonic affection between Moroccan males -- such as holding hands, which is a sign of friendship and respect -- is freely shown, and some of the Berber tribes (the Atlas Chleuh, for example) are known as particularly tolerant toward homosexual behavior. Lesbianism is relatively uncommon and definitely not acknowledged, as it portrays a weakness in both the woman -- she's expected to get married and bear children -- and her family.
For both gays and lesbians, discretion is advised. Avoid public displays of affection, as this is something that is even frowned upon when shown by a heterosexual couple. Tangier -- the world's first gay resort -- is still considered somewhat gay-friendly. Marrakech certainly has a mini gay scene, thanks largely to the number of gay French couples now residing there.
The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 800/448-8550 or 954/776-2626; www.iglta.org) is the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry, and offers an online directory of gay- and lesbian-friendly travel businesses and tour operators. Gay Journey (www.gayjourney.com) is a U.S.-based online travel resource of destinations that cater to the gay lifestyle, including Morocco. Beyond the Mask (www.mask.org.za) has gay-based information and news articles on each African country, including Morocco. GlobalGayz (www.globalgayz.com) is a gay-owned travel, news, and culture website focused on les-bi-gay-trans life in countries around the world. Their exposé and other stories on gay life in Morocco are very interesting and well researched.
The following travel guides are available at many bookstores, or you can order them from any online bookseller: Spartacus International Gay Guide (Bruno Gmünder Verlag; www.spartacusworld.com/gayguide); Odysseus: The International Gay Travel Planner (www.odyusa.com); and the Damron guides (www.damron.com), with separate annual books for gay men and lesbians.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.