Gay Cruise Ship Denied Access To Muslim Country of Morocco
By Rizwan Khatik - Wed Jul 04, 6:52 am
A gay cruise ship that was set to visit a Muslim country for the first time was denied the privilege over the weekend.
The Holland America cruise ship carrying 2,100 passengers and crew was set to visit Casablanca in Morocco on July 1. RSVP Vacations had organized the gay cruise on board the Nieuw Amsterdam which would have been the first cruise of its kind to enter a Muslim country, but it was denied access.
“Our port agent in Casablanca has advised us that authorities in Morocco have despite previous confirmations now denied our scheduled visit,” the two companies said in a letter, as reported by Reuters.
The Moroccan stop would have been the only non-European stop for the week-long cruise. Instead, the ship had to dock at the southern Spanish port of Malaga.
“For all of us, this is a very disappointing development,” said Holland America and RSVP. “It was ultimately the decision by local authorities in Morocco that has necessitated us to adjust our plans.”
Despite the claims, Moroccan tourism officials denied with the ban. Morocco’s Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad said there was no official decision made that would ban the ship from stopping at the port.
“We don’t ban cruise ships here and we never ask our visitors about their sexual preferences,” he told Reuters. Asked if the MS Nieuw Amsterdam could still visit Morocco, he said: “They can if the organisers want to”.
The ban would not come as a surprise to the conservative country. Although Morocco is more tolerant than other Muslim nations, same sex relationships are illegal and punishable by up to three years in jail. The country also bans sex outside of marriage and the purchase of alcohol, according to Fox News Latino.
Passengers of the ship would have visited places like the Hassan II Mosque and several souks, or marketplaces in Casablanca during the 12-hour stop. The ship is also set to sail to the southern Spanish city of Cadiz, Ibiza, Valencia, and then return to Barcelona, Fox New Latino reports.