Mustapha Ramid
Morocco's human rights minister Mustapha Ramid has come under fire for referring to homosexuals as "scum" ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/Getty Images

The Moroccan minister for human rights has come under fire for referring to LGBT people as "scum".

When a journalist asked Mustapha Ramid about the treatment of LGBT people in Morocco at the end of September, he said: "Why are you asking me about homosexuality too?"

He added: "This is too much. Too much. It's a shame that homosexuality has a value now. Why is everyone asking me about it?"

He used the Arabic word "Awsakh", which means "scum" or "dirt", to describe LGBT people.

His comments sparked outrage on social media, with many people accusing Ramid of homophobia and hate speech.

When questioned this week about his choice of words, Ramid refused to apologise, describing homosexuality as a "perversion" that "disgusts the public opinion". He said his remarks were grounded in Morocco's constitution. Homosexuality is illegal in the Islamic country and can be punished with up to three years imprisonment and a steep fine.

"If I have said that sexual perversion [referring to homosexuality] as filth or obscenity, it is only to describe certain actions and behaviors, and the terms do not necessarily apply to people no matter their orientation may be," Ramid said in a statement.

Aziz Idamine, head of the Moroccan Rights and Freedoms Youth Center, told Morocco News that Ramid's comments are "nothing new to the vocabulary of the minister";

"He already called journalists 'traitors' once and described human rights activists as 'hateful'", he said.

"The minister has every right to hold on onto the legal jurisdiction that criminalises homosexuality, but he has absolutely no right to call homosexuals 'trash'", Idamine added.