A feminine gender-nonconforming person in Morocco was brutally beaten on a Fez street by an angry group of at least six men Monday. The attack was caught on video by a passerby who posted it to social media, alerting Morrocan newspaper Goud.
As Gay Star News notes, Moroccan media has reported that the victim is a gay man, but their gender expression has led some to believe they may be a trans woman. The Advocate will use the gender neutral pronoun "they" to refer to the survivor, who has not been publicly identified.
The altercation — which lasted more than two minutes and was witnessed by at least 30 people who did not intervene — began when the victim was seemingly trying to flee in a black taxi. Goud reported that the attackers had become enraged by the victim's white dress and the way they walked. The victim was pulled out of the vehicle by several men, who began raining blows on the victim's back, head, and face, eventually pushing them to the ground.
Shouts and expletives can be heard in the video as the attackers gathered in a tight circle around the the victim to continue kicking their back. At one point, one man pushed the victim over so that their front side was exposed. The person's listless response indicates that they may have been struggling to stay conscious, notes Gay Star News.
Eventually, the victim was able to rise and run down the street towards a market, but was pursued by several men. A crowd of people trailed behind to watch, several recording the continued attack on cellphone cameras. The victim then fell to the ground in front of a police officer who held the mob at bay by raising his arms.
Police reportedly took the victim away in a police car as assailants continued to throw beer bottles at the vehicle. Two men have been arrested for the attack thus far, and the victim will appear in court Tuesday, reports the Agence France-Presse. "The investigation will continue to determine the responsibility of other persons," said the police in a statement.
Notably, the victim may still face charges for homosexuality, which is currently punishable by imprisonment for up to three years under article 489 of Morocco's penal code. The country made international headlines June 19 when two gay men were immediately arrested and sentened to four months in jail after kissing in front of a sacred monument in Rabat in protest of the law.
Identifying as transgender, on the other hand, is not illegal in Morocco, and a handful of the country's entertainers are even openly trans, but as LGBT rights activist Scott Long explained to Yahoo News last year:
"Gender-nonconformity is entertaining and confusing as long as it's safely confined to a stage or TV screen, not something you meet on the street. Social prejudice against people who don't conform to gender norms is very strong."
Morocco's Ministry of Justice has announced an investigation of the June 29 mob attack, according to AFP.
Watch the video below for footage of the assault, with viewer discretion advised for graphic violence.