Saudi Arabia: Men ‘behaving like women’ face flogging

Human Rights Watch
Sentences imposed for alleged homosexual conduct violate basic rights.
In sentencing more than 100 men to imprisonment and flogging after unfair trials for reputed homosexual conduct, Saudi Arabia has advertised its contempt for the basic rights to privacy, fair trials and freedom from torture, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists said today.
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extracted from: House of Saud re-embraces totalitarianism
By John R Bradley

[...] The treatment of Saudi gay men, too, seemed to be improving when international uproar followed an Interior Ministry statement in January 2002 that three men in the southern city of Abha had been "beheaded for homosexuality". The report provoked widespread condemnation from gay and human-rights groups in the West - and a swift denial from an official at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC. Tariq Allegany, an embassy spokesman, said the three were beheaded for the sexual abuse of boys, adding: "I would guess there's sodomy going on daily in Saudi Arabia, but we don't have executions for it all the time."

The kingdom's Internet Services Unit, responsible for blocking sites deemed "unIslamic" or politically sensitive, even unblocked access to a home page for gay Saudi surfers after being bombarded with critical emails from the US. A S Getenio, manager of, said at the time Saudi Arabia seemed concerned about the bad publicity blocking the site would bring, "at the time it was involved in a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in the US to improve its image".

Now the al-Saud have no such inhibitions. The website is once again blocked, and the Saudi religious police - acting on "tip offs" - are raiding gay gatherings in Jeddah on an almost monthly basis. More than 100 young men caught dancing and "behaving like women" at a private party were sentenced this month to a total of 14,200 lashes, after a trial behind closed doors and without defense lawyers. The men were also given jail sentences of up to two years. This witch-hunt, like the one targeting "African immigrants", also serves to deflect public attention from the royal family's indulgence and mismanagement. But it additionally makes the al-Saud seem more Islamist than the Islamists, as they try to steal the radicals' clothes to shore up support among the masses.


John R Bradley is the author of Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis. He has reported extensively from Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East for many publications, including The Economist, The New Republic, Salon, The Independent, The London Telegraph, The Washington Times, and Prospect. See his website: