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Elite Saudi Soldiers Target Gays Instead of Terrorists

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Saudi Arabian special forces units raided a suspected gay wedding in Jeddah last month and arrested 110 men present for "behaving like women', Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed this week.

31 of the men have since been jailed for between six and twelve months, HRW added, with four individuals receiving sentences of two years and 2,000 lashes.

"Prosecuting and imprisoning people for homosexual conduct are flagrant human rights violations," said Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program. "Subjecting the victims to floggings is torture, pure and simple."

According to the civil liberties group, men can be detained in Saudi Arabia merely on suspicion of being gay, with convicted homosexuals facing penalties including beheading. Three years ago, Amnesty reported on the case of three local men 'Ali bin Hittan bin Sa'id, Muhammad bin Suleyman bin Muhammad and Muhammad bin Khalil bin 'Abdullah, who were executed in January 2002, for crimes including tranvestitism and sodomy.

"We are gravely concerned that men in Saudi Arabia may have been convicted and executed primarily because of their sexual orientation," Amnesty International UK Saudi Arabia Country Co-ordinator Paul Dawson said at the time.

"Given the secrecy surrounding trials in Saudi Arabia our fear is that people are being executed in the Kingdom because of perceived "deviant behaviour"," he complained.