Saturday, May 14, 2005

Gay protestors target Saudi embassy

Gay campaigners will protest outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in London next week, as part of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

The demonstrators hope their appearance at the embassy will help increase pressure on the Saudi government to lift their bar on homosexuality and improve their current human rights record.

It comes as the country is being labelled the "most homophobic in the world".

As well as gay campaigning groups across the UK, human right body Amnesty International has called on the country to improve its treatment of minorities, and to loosen its tough regime.

In recent months, the Saudi government has arrested and executed gay prisoners because of their sexuality, while gay Iranian refugees refused asylum in the UK have committed suicide rather than return to their home country.

The protest is part of the IDAHO event, which will see cities across the globe unite and campaign for an end to homophobia for the first time.

Events are expected to take place in as many as 50 cities, with London gay bars being urged to hold a minute's silence in memory of those who have been persecuted in other countries.

Protest group Outrage, which is taking part in the protest, has already called on members of the UK's LGBT community to part.

Claiming the UK government should be punished for their links with Saudi Arabia, the group is calling for the country to be "named and shamed".

Derek Leonard, the UK coordinator of the IDAHO, is calling for protestors to meet outside the Embassy on Charles Street between 12 noon to 2pm on 17th May (next Tuesday).

Organisers of the IDAHO event have drawn up a petition, that will be delivered to the United Nations next week. To sign it before then, visit