March 26, 2008
Guilty of gay by association
Posted by: Chris
You may have heard about the libel lawsuits that occasionally are brought here in the U.S. when the media reports that someone is gay -- as if that is a defamatory in and of itself. Of late courts have generally done the right thing, allowing the claim to go forward when the plaintiff is in a heterosexual marriage or can otherwise prove that reporting he or she is gay actually is an attack on their reputation.
Not so in Morocco (big surprise, right?). The courts there have issued one of the largest libel damage awards ever against the media after an article reported that "a judge" -- and unnamed judge -- attended the reception that followed a gay wedding:
[The article] quoted a police source saying that an unnamed judge in the town attended the party, a sensitive issue in Morocco's mostly conservative society. [The newspaper] apologized for suggesting a judge was present at the gay party, after its police source informed the paper that the judge had been confused with a person with the same name.
The paper did not name the judge in its report but all four judges [in the town] sued the newspaper for defamation. A Rabat court on Tuesday ordered [the paper] to pay them [about US$200,000] each.
Sounds like Tom Cruise's kind of country.
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