Come out to Saudi Arabia, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…Then tomorrow we’ll bedhead you. !
Saudi Arabia is reaching out to a particularly lucrative segment of the market: LGBTQ visitors, as the country continues its campaign to draw tourists, international media reported.
According to the Saudi Tourism Authority’s (STA) website’s Q&A section, “Gay guests are welcome in the kingdom.”
The website said, “Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose such personal details,” is the website’s response to the question on its FAQ page: “Are LGBT visitors welcome to visit Saudi Arabia?”
Here is the catch: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people in Saudi Arabia face severe repression and legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal.”
Yes. Even for tourists.
The primary source of law in Saudi Arabia is the Islamic Sharia. This is derived from the Quran. The traditional interpretation of Sharia is that it prohibits homosexual acts (as zina or unlawful sexual intercourse) and, specifically, liwat or sodomy, though there is a difference of opinion on the punishment ranging from none at all (hanafi) to the death penalty
Here are just a few reasons NOT to visit Saudi Arabia:
*In 2000, the Saudi Government sentenced nine Saudi men to extensive prison terms with lashing for engaging in cross-dressing and homosexual relations. That same year the government executed three Yemeni male workers for homosexuality and child molestation.
*In 2001, Saudi teacher and playwright Muhammad Al-Suhaimi was charged with promoting homosexuality and after a trial was sentenced to prison.
*In May 2005, the government arrested 92 men for homosexuality, who were given sentences ranging from fines to prison sentences of several months and lashings. Likewise, on 7 November 2005 Riyadh police raided what the Saudi press called a “beauty contest for gay men” at Al-Qatif.
*In 2011–2012, the Saudi newspaper Okaz announced that the government had arrested over 260 people for the crime of homosexuality over a one-year period. According to the official report, the men were caught cross-dressing, wearing ladies’ makeup and trying to pick up other men.
And the list goes on and on to this very year.
Saudi Arabia has laws against discrimination on the basis of gender but not sexual orientation. Harassment or violence against LGBT people is not addressed in any bias-motivated or hate crime law. Advocacy for LGBT rights is illegal within the “kingdom.”
So as you see Saudi Arabia is not exactly the best of place for LGBT travelers to visit.