Saudi Arabian newspaper “Okaz” reports that LGBTQ people who communicate on social media are at risk of being prosecuted and charged with “voicing immorality and promoting adultery in the society.” The Public Prosecution Services is moving to raise the maximum penalty for such cases to the Death Penalty.
The newspaper reports that these new measures were in response to an increase in the number of Saudi’s who use social media to announce their sexual orientation and interacting with other LGBTQ members.
Saudi Arabia does not recognize LGBTQ rights and LGBTQ people face humiliation, oppression and prosecution. A gay Saudi man was arrested for having an online date with a gay person on Facebook and faced corporal punishment. In 2014, another gay person was sentenced to three years in jail and 450 lashes for meeting other men via twitter. With the new law, LGBTQ people now face the risk of the death penalty for communicating on social media.
Social media erupted in disgust with the hashtag #لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي. Translated from Arabic, the hashtag means “You can’t scare me. I am gay.”
No one can pick if they're born Saudi or American, gay or straight. Equal rights for all! #لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي
— ❄️ OTEP SHAMAYA (@otepofficial) March 26, 2016
No one should have to live in danger just because they love someone. Love is love and it should be expressed freely. #لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي
— Zachary (@ZacKent96) March 26, 2016
Despite this draconian law, the International community has remained silent on this issue. And to add insult to injury, Saudi Arabia will chair the next UN human right panel.
How is Saudi Arabia – one of the biggest human rights violators in the world – Chair of the UN Human Rights Council? #لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) March 26, 2016
But we don’t need to look very far to find extreme anti-LGBTQ views. You can find them right here in the United States. Pastor Kevin Swanson held a conference that featured three presidential Republican candidates: Huckabee, Jindal and Cruz where he called for the death penalty for homosexuals. Ted Cruz, who still has a good chance of becoming the next Republican nominee, did not condemn the pastor’s extremist views. When Jake Tapper asked Cruz about the incident in an interview, Cruz said:
“Listen! I don’t know what this gentleman has said and what he hasn’t said. I know that when it comes to religious liberty, this is a passion of mine that has been a passion of mine for decades. And that I have been fighting for religious liberty for everyone: For Christians, for Jews, for Muslims, for every one of us to practice our faith.”
The White House has also turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s numerous human rights violations. The State Department was unaware of Ali al-Nimr’s case, a teenager facing execution by beheading and an additional punishment of “crucifixion” for protesting against the government. US President Barack Obama didn’t raise human rights issues during his 2014 visit to Saudi Arabia, a strategic US ally.
It remains to be seen if the White House will issue a statement to condemn this law.