There are a lot of questions people have when it comes to dating and public displays of affection in Morocco. There is also a lot of confusion about what is and isn’t allowed. Please note, these are not my views on what should or shouldn’t be accepted. I am sharing what the situation is. There also can be a wide range of experiences people have had as well as a difference in attitudes depending on the city or location; rural vs. urban for example.
Are there laws around public displays of affection in Morocco?
Yes, there are. Morocco has laws relating to those things that are, “an act of aggression against Moroccan Muslim society and people” – kissing in public falls into this category. The prohibitions specifically relate to unmarried couples.
With that being said these laws are rarely enforced, and when they are it is typically only between Moroccan couples, not foreigners. If you are a foreign couple visiting and you kiss no one is likely going to say anything to you – kissing in Morocco is not illegal. However if one partner is Moroccan you may face additional scrutiny.
While you might not get in trouble, it is highly frowned on to kiss or fondle each other in public. Moroccan society is changing however, it is still conservative in many ways. One of those is when it comes to affection in public. Overall the best advice is keep it to a bare minimum.
I’m not advocating for you to be affectionate so many people have asked this question that it’s worth mentioning what’s generally acceptable;
- A small kiss on the lips or cheek
- Holding hands
- Walking arm and arm
- Sharing a short, brief hug
What’s not ok;
- Making out and very passionate kissing
- Touching in a sexual way in public
- Hanging on each other or laying on each other in a public place
Ramadan Kissing Rules
If you’re not sure what Ramadan is, take a read of my post on Ramadan in Morocco to get caught up. Generally speaking this is the most holy month in the Islamic year. People fast from sunrise to sunset. They don’t just fast from food and water but also from any sexual thoughts and actions.
If you’ll be visiting in Ramadan it’s best to avoid any kissing, hand holding or hugging in public. If you are dating a Muslim person who is fasting during Ramadan most will avoid physical contact completely during daylight hours. This means no kissing, hand holding, or other activities during the fast.
Other Types of Behavior That Fall Under Decency Laws
Under this same category of laws there are rules and cultural norms surrounding other aspects of decency. There are people who do find their way around rules but I am a firm believer in following the laws of the country you are living in or a guest in.
It is categorically illegal for non-married couples (where one partner is Moroccan) to share a hotel room, apartment, or any other rooming situation. This rule DOES NOT apply to foreign visitors.
For mixed Moroccan – Foreign couples you will be asked to present your marriage certificate when you check into a hotel or any other room situation. These places are required to provide this information to the police on a regular basis. They face very steep fines if they rent to unmarried couples.
Homesexuality is illegal in Morocco, but again rarely a legal issue for foreign couples. If one partner is Moroccan it may become a different issue. Rarely is the foreign partner arrested or charged with a crime however the Moroccan partner can face fines and imprisonment. You will likely notice Moroccan men holding hands with men (and women with women) in Morocco. This is not a sign of partnership but friendship.
One final note to make is on appropriate clothing.
There are no specific laws relating to a Moroccan dress code, aside from no nudity. However, being dressed more modestly – especially during Ramadan – but at all times of year is advisable. As mentioned previously in Morocco you will find a wide range of lifestyles however many areas are conservative.
Being covered from your knees to your neck is a good rule of thumb. Wearing clothing that is see through, exposes underwear, or breasts is frowned on. You will more likely than not be hassled either in a negative way or in an “overly excited” way.
I hope that this helps to answer some of the questions you might have surrounding the issue of PDA in Morocco. I will be adding to the information as more questions come in and I am able.
Here are some other posts that you may find interesting when it comes to behavior and culture in Morocco.