Two Saudi men were publicly beheaded on December 26th after being found guilty of rape.

The official SPA news agency said Nasser al-Harby and Majid al-Sibeiy had gone into the bedroom where the unnamed victim slept.

They beat him, tied him up and raped him.

100 people were executed by Saudi Arabia in 2008.

Homosexuality is illegal under sharia, or Islamic Law.

The maximum sentence it carries is the death penalty and this is most commonly performed by public beheading; normally a sword is used.

Gay rights are not recognised in the kingdom and the publication of any material promoting them is banned for its “un-Islamic” themes.

With strict laws restricting unmarried opposite-sex couples, however, and public displays of affection accepted between men, some Westerners have suggested that Saudi culture encourages homosexuality.

In July 55 people were arrested at a “gay party” in Qatif province.

Drugs, alcohol were reportedly found at the gathering.

In June more than 20 men after a raid on another property in Qatif.

Quantities of alcohol were seized at a gathering of young men. Many were initially arrested on homosexuality charges but later released.

In October 2007 two men were publicly flogged in Saudi Arabia after being found guilty of sodomy and sentenced to 7,000 lashes.