An Instagram influencer encouraged her followers to target gay and bi men using dating apps in Morocco – a country where homsexuality is illegal.
It’s left some fearful for their lives after the influencer told women to see if their husbands or sons are on the apps.
Last week Naofal Moussa used an Instagram Live broadcast to tell Moroccan women about Grindr and PlanetRomeo. Moussa is a trans woman based in Turkey who is also known as Sofia Talouni
She encouraged them to download the apps and use pictures of men for their profile photos.
Moreover she suggested that Morocco’s coronavirus lockdown gave women the opportunity to discover if their family or neighbors are gay or bi men.
Speaking in Moroccan Arabic, Moussa said (translated):
‘These apps will show you the people who are near to you. 100 meters, 200 meters, even just one meter, just next to you in the living room.
‘Since everyone is together at home, it could show you your husband in your bedroom, it could show you your son who might be in the bathroom.’
Moussa didn’t explicitly tell people to use what they found out to publicly out men. But LGBT+ people in Morocco say that is what’s now happening.
After they alerted Instagram, the social media company removed the video on Friday. But much of the damage has been done.
Catfished into sending face pics and nudes
Moroccan LGBT+ people believe many women downloaded the apps. Some posed as ‘bottoms’ as they believe that will make it easier to entrap more people.
They started conversations with gay and bi men using the apps. Then they catfished them into sending face and nude photos.
LGBT+ Moroccans say the women used Facebook groups to circulate pictures of the gay men on these apps. The outed men may face being kicked out of home, beaten up or even so-called ‘honor killings’.
In response, Grindr and PlanetRomeo have sent warning messages to app users in the country.
PlanetRomeon says it has blocked and removed profiles from the last few days to tackle the problem. And Facebook says it is trying to shut down the offending groups as quickly as possible.
‘I will disgrace you publicly’
Business Insider helped break the story.
One gay 19-year-old told them that his photos are currently circulating online but haven’t reached his family yet.
He said: ‘I’m not just afraid. I’m certain that I will be kicked out immediately. Or worse, beaten up.’
And a 20-year-old man said his photos are also circulating on Facebook groups. The man expects his family to find out.
He said he wishes his parents would just find the photos so the waiting would be over. He has been preparing ‘lies’ to defend himself.
And he added: ‘I’m living in constant fright.’
The Il Grande Colibrì site also shared testimony from a man who said:
‘A few days ago, I was contacted on Grindr by a family member.
‘The message said: “I found you. My mother always suspected you were not a real man. And now I have proof! I will publish your photos on social media, so everyone will know. I will disgrace you publicly!”
‘I got scared and didn’t reply to the message. I immediately removed my photos from the app.’
Nassawiyat, a feminist LBTQ group in Morocco says Moussa or Sofia Talouni is a Moroccan expat living in Turkey. It said:
‘Sofia clearly attacked and underestimated the Moroccan civil society associations, especially the AIDS fighting associations that are making a great effort and work really hard for the safety and well-being of the LGBTQA+ community and the Moroccan society as a whole.
‘Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco law and seen as a great sin by a large number of Moroccan people.
‘Therefore, publicly exposing the identities of the Moroccan queer people puts them at risk.’
The country still punishes homosexuality with up to three years jail and a fine.
Meanwhile experts are advising people not to share any images of outed Moroccan LGBT+ people or even links to the pages. Instead, they should just report the pages and images as abuse to social media companies.
Nassawiyat wants Instagram to permanently ban Moussa from its platform.