Friday, March 18, 2005

Saudi Arabia arrests 110 gay men

From Gay.com UK

Saudi Arabia has apparently arrested a group of presumably gay men, claiming they were celebrating a gay wedding in the city of Jeddah.

According to press reports, 110 men were arrested at a party with many fleeing as special forces entered.

Although 80 were released, The Guardian reports, 30 men are still being detained and are likely to face charges.

The arrests follow a growing international awareness of the Saudi stance on homosexuality, which is still illegal in the country and punishable by jail terms or even death.

Although arrests are regularly made, there has been an increasing number of accounts that suggest the taboo nature of sexual diversity is being exploited by those bearing a grudge.

Men can be arrested under suspicion of being gay, and police forces are often 'tipped' off by neighbours, reports suggest, leaving the system open to personal vendettas.

Earlier this month, two men were jailed for apparently murdering another that had reportedly threatened to reveal they were partners.

These latest arrests are reminiscent of similarly high profile arrests in nearby Egypt, where homosexuality is also taboo.

The country's government was accused of regularly rounding up gay men, most notably in the 2001 arrest of more than 50 people at a boat party.

Since then, it has been regularly attacked by human rights groups, gay activists and celebrities.

Saudi Arabia is also known to regularly block gay websites such as gaymiddleeast.com and international gay sites, including gay.com.

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