In Morocco, the “hypocrisy” of the marriage certificate in hotels

“When a person walks into a hotel and is asked if they are married, and then asked to provide a marriage certificate, is that not a violation of their privacy? (…) Those who demand these documents are breaking the law and must be prosecuted,” launched on May 21 in Parliament Abdellatif Ouahbi, the Moroccan Minister of Justice, who is carrying out the major reform of the Family Code.

This is not the first time that the progressive minister has raised this social issue, which “hides a forest of hypocrisy”, explains the Moroccan news site As is. In Moroccan society, the divergence of opinions on the subject demonstrates the difficulty of reforming the laws.

On the networks, Moroccans react to the words of the Minister of Justice, but remain divided. If some salute a minister who “dares to defy the archaic and obscurantist system and defend individual freedoms”, others believe, on the contrary, that this involves imposing “Western morals” on “a Muslim land”.

Criminalization of sex outside marriage

Defenders of human rights and freedoms welcome the minister’s declaration, while believing that the question lies elsewhere. “The real problem concerns the very existence of article 490 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes sex outside of marriage”, declares to As is Ghizlane Mamouni, lawyer and co-founder of the Kif Mama Kif Baba association, which fights for women’s rights and individual freedoms.

If this article is not repealed by the legislator, the minister’s declarations will not change anything in the daily lives of Moroccans. It’s certain “formal instructions” of the police that hoteliers are obliged to request a marriage certificate from couples requesting a room.

Of “bullshit”, even comments Lahcen Zelmat, president of the National Federation of the Hotel Industry (FNIH), who challenges the Minister of Justice to dare “send a circular to the police and the Ministry of Tourism to put an end to this obligation”.

To circumvent this control which interferes with private life, many Moroccans opt for short-term rentals on Airbnb-type platforms. In its current version, article 490 of the Penal Code “punishes with one month to one year in prison persons of different sexes who, not being married, have sexual relations with each other”.

Wanted by the king Mohammed VI, the reform of the Moudawana, the Moroccan Personal Status Code, is still the subject of heated discussions. If the project is approved by the palace, it will be submitted to Parliament.

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