A pair of Moroccan men are facing jail after they “stood too close to each other”

Mohsine, a 25-year-old from Marrakesh, and Lahcen, 38, from Rabat, were taking pictures near Hassan tower, the capital’s famous minaret, earlier this month.

They were then arrested by for supposedly standing too close to each other, activists have reported.

Morocco’s ministry of interior claim the men were copying a protest by two topless feminist Femen activists who kissed each other in front of Hassan tower the day before.

The Moroccan association for the defense of homosexuals – Aswat – told the Guardian: “According to police records, the detainees, while under investigation, have admitted that they are gay but they have also confirmed according to the same source that their visit to the square of the Hassan tower was for pure touristic reasons.

“The detainee from Marrakech was visiting Rabat for the first time and wanted to go sightseeing with his friend.

“They visited several touristic places that day and took photographs at different sites before they ended up at the Hassan tower.”

Now a group of activists have launched an online petition to demand their release.

The petition, which was launched in partnership with Aswat, has already gathered more than 61,549 signatures, according to Morocco World News.

The petition states: “Being gay should not be a crime,” and calls for the freedom of “Lahcen and Mohsine and all others imprisoned in Morocco just because they are gay.”

The men, whose trial is scheduled for Thursday, face up to three years in prison if convicted.

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In conservative Morocco, homosexuality, lesbianism, and any other se xual act outside of marriage are taboo.

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