Morocco is a travel experience that is culturally engaging, sometimes overwhelming, and always fascinating whether it’s the first visit to the region or one of many. Morocco for many reasons is a fantastic destination for adventure seekers looking to go trekking, shoppers looking for beautiful rugs and knickknacks, surfers wanting to hit the waves, and just about anything in between. But is this Muslim country a worthwhile destination for the out LGBTQ traveler?
It’s not that LGBTQ culture is nonexistent in Morocco, but rather it is behind the scenes, under the table, between the cracks or any other innuendo expressing the idea that it is not accepted in mainstream society. Of course there are gay Moroccans and gay travelers to Morocco whether or not the country’s government and people want to acknowledge them. The country doesn’t have cities with an international gay-friendly reputation like Tel Aviv, Barcelona, or Mykonos. However, it still attracts gay tourists wanting to see what this North African country and culture is all about.
Morocco’s mix of cultures and ancient history chock full of dynasties and colonizations make it a cultural and linguistic melting pot. The Berber people are some of the first occupants whose inhabitance of the area of what is today Morocco dates back thousands of years. Fast forward to the beginning of the twentieth century and France and Spain both considered Morocco a protectorate territory. Finally in 1956, the land became the independent country it is today, officially the Kingdom of Morocco. Its history is as colorful and vibrant as the country and inhabitants are themselves.
Destinations to Consider
Morocco is a country with a multitude of destinations to cover. From the western coastal shores to the towering mountains and onto the lapping desert sands. While none of these destinations are considered explicitly gay-friendly, some locales are more open than others. Top ten lists of places to visit in Morocco often include a variety of sites and activities like markets and squares, medinas, sand swept towns bordering dunes, visits to Berber villages, and relaxing on coastal beaches. Some of those destinations include Djemaa el-Fna in Marrakech, the medina in Fez which is the former capital of Morocco, trekking the Erg Chebbi sand dunes, experiencing breathtaking views from the High Atlas Mountains, and kitesurfing the powerful winds in Essaouira. Queer travelers desiring a semblance of a gay scene will have the best luck in Marrakesh and Agadir as they are quite popular for gay European travelers.
Keeping Personal Safety in Mind
As when traveling to any foreign country, visitors should be respectful of the culture they are in and mind certain customs and traditions. This is not just a courtesy. It is also a matter of protecting one’s safety. The LGBTQ traveler should be especially careful when traveling to a nation where homosexuality is frowned on, as in Morocco. While going back into the closet may seem difficult, if not outright insulting to some members of the queer community, it is important to remember why you visiting in the first place. Travel is sometimes about spreading ideals and working towards a greater common good, but this can only happen in the right context and under the right circumstances. More often than not, tourists are in a country to observe, learn, and experience rather than influence, change, and criticize. This is something to keep in mind. Furthermore, gay travelers to Morocco don’t have to go back into the closet per se. They just need to be mindful of where they are, what they say, and how they act with a significant other. It’s also worth keeping in mind that homosexuality is not illegal for visitors to the country, however locals can find themselves in a much more troubling situation. Following those simple guidelines, it’s unlikely to encounter any issues during a visit to Morocco.
Morocco may not seem to be the most gay-friendly destination there is to visit, but in a way that’s the point. It’s a conservative and religious nation with thousands of years of history, separate from western culture and that’s all a part of what makes it unique. Just because a traveler is gay doesn’t mean he or she is “gay traveling”. Destinations catering to the gay community are fantastic, but there’s so much to see beyond that. Morocco is a country not to be neglected as a potential vacation spot for queer travelers looking for more than the typical gay destinations of muscle beaches, pricey resorts, and circuit parties. Hopefully it will soon recognize LGBTQ equality and if that day comes, Morocco would still retain everything about it that makes it such a worthwhile, exotic, and diverse destination for everyone.
Start Planning Today
If you’re planning your Morocco vacation and are looking for a great experience, we provide customized itineraries for all types of travelers. Whether you want to relax on the beach or trek into the mountains, our experienced guides can make your wish a reality. Contact us today to begin preparing for your Moroccan adventure!
About the Author:
This article was written by world traveler and blogger David Brown. You can follow the adventures (and misadventures) of David and his husband at TwoBadTourists.com. You can also join up with David on Google+ to learn more about world wayfaring, festivals, and more!