Students and members of OutRage! took to the streets of London last week to protest about the treatment of gays in Saudi Arabia.
Fifty people picketed the Saudi embassy after it was reported that two men had been sentenced to 7,000 lashes for “sodomy.”
The London protest, organised by the National Union of Students
(NUS) LGBT campaign and supported by OutRage!, came eleven days ahead of the state visit to the UK of the Saudi head of state King Abdullah bin Abdul Azaz al Saud.
Members of LGBT Labour also attended the event.
NUS protest organiser Scott Cuthbertson called on others to protest the “continued criminalisation, imprisonment, torture and murder of LGBT people in Saudi Arabia.”
The protesters handed in a letter of protest to the Saudi Ambassador, HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, calling on his government to respect the human rights of its own LGBT citizens.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell criticised the excessive punishment reportedly handed down on 2nd October to two young men in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Bahah, and the wider record of the Saudi regime.
“7,000 lashes is a form of torture, calculated to cause maximum, prolonged suffering,” he said.
“So many lashes can be fatal, depending on how many are delivered at any one time.
“As well as flogging and executing gay people, the Saudi leaders are guilty of detention without trial, torture and the public beheading women who have sex outside of marriage.
“The Saudis import migrant workers to do menial tasks. They are treated like de facto slaves, frequently abused and with few rights. The media is heavily censored.
“Trade unions, political parties and non-Muslim religions are banned. The country is a theocratic police state.
“The British and US governments support the despotic, corrupt Saudi regime.
“Labour sells the Saudi leaders arms and honours them with state visits. It refuses asylum to gay Saudis who flee persecution and seek refuge in the UK,” he said.
King Abdullah bin Abdul Azaz al Saud’s state visit begins on 30th October.