Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sixty-seven Filipino men working in Saudi Arabia face jail and lashes for "imitating women" after being arrested at a party in which a number were dressed in drag, a Philippines embassy official said on Saturday.

Riyadh police arrested all 67 men at a private party and drag show in a resort villa near Riyadh on June 13, Philippines embassy Vice Consul Roussel Reyes told the news agency AFP.

"They had alcohol and some were dressed up like women," he said.

Both drinking and cross-dressing are forbidden under Saudi Arabia's conservative Islam-based sharia laws, and both could bring up to six months in prison and lashes.

None were charged with homosexual acts, a much more serious charge under Saudi law, Reyes said.

The men have all been released to their employers while formal charges are drawn up, he added.

Some one million Filipinos work in Saudi Arabia.