Last edited: March 21, 2005

Saudi Arrests at ‘Gay Wedding’, March 18, 2005

By Malcolm Thornberry European Bureau Chief

LONDON—News reports from Saudi Arabia say that police this week arrested 110 men at what is described as a “gay wedding” in the city of Jeddah.

Saudi justice officials seldom release information about arrests until after a trial and it is impossible to independently verify the report.

According to Al-Wifaq, a Saudi online newspaper with connections to interior ministry, police were tipped off by an informant.

The account says that when police arrived on the scene they found the men, all Saudi citizens, dancing and “behaving like women”.

Eighty men were later released, Al-Wifaq reports but the remaining 30 appeared in a Jeddah court this week to face charges, the paper said.

Homosexuality is punishable by flogging, lengthy prison terms or death under Sharia Islamic law.

The arrests came only a day after a gay couple was beaded in a public execution in the northern town of Arar, near the Iraq border. The pair had been convicted of killing a blackmailer. If they had been exposed as gay they could have been executed anyway.

The Saudi Interior Ministry issued a statement announcing the execution, saying that Ahmed al-Enezi and Shahir al-Roubli ran over Malik Khan in their car, beat him on the head with stones and set fire to his corpse “fearing they would be exposed after the victim witnessed them in a shameful situation”.

The term “shameful situation” is regularly used by the government to refer to homosexual acts.

Last year the Saudi police raided another event described as a gay wedding party for two African men from Chad at a hotel in the holy city of Medina. About 50 people were arrested.

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