Four gay men arrested in Saudi Arabia just for living as couples
The men were arrested by security services after tips about where the men had lived together.
According to reports, they had held wedding parties, and had lived as though they were married.
The arrests were warranted by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
Un-named sources close to the Commission told Saudi news site Sabq on Tuesday: “As the religious police members arrived at the flat, they were spotted by two of the gays who tried to get rid of the fake breasts they were wearing.
“The Commission members arrested and then detained the other two gays inside the flat. The four admitted they were living as married couples. The first couple said that they got married two days earlier at a recreational facility south of Riyadh and that they were still on their honeymoon. The second couple said they celebrated their marriage last week. The four said they used the flat as their residence.”
Video footage of the couples’ wedding celebrations were found at the site, the sources said, alongside locally produced alcohol, and “Several women’s dresses, bags, shoes, wigs and fake breasts”, according to the sources.
The reports about their wedding parties went viral in Saudi media, and after rumours that the celebrations took place in the Jeddah resort, local police denied the claims.
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According to the report, three of the detainees were unmarried and one, 28, was married.
The sources added that the Commission found on the mobiles of the detainees several pictures and clips of the wedding parties and of the guests wearing women’s clothes and make-up.
“Several women’s dresses, bags, shoes, wigs, fake breasts as well as four bottles of locally produced liquor were found during a search of the flat,” the sources said.
Reports about the gay wedding parties went viral on Monday on Saudi media platforms, and several users claimed they were held in the Red Sea resort of Jeddah, prompting the local police to issue a formal denial.
“The reports about gay weddings in Jeddah are baseless and lack credibility,” the spokesperson for the police said. “The security authorities do not have any record of such a case, and we urge people to verify their information with the official and trustworthy sources before they disseminate them.”
Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most repressive countries, called for the UN to make sure that gay rights stay off the table entirely during the setting of strategy goals.
The UN recently launched its global goals as a series of ‘ambitious targets’ for its 193 member states related to poverty, equality and ending climate change – though overt references to LGBT equality were stripped out of the final agreement.
Saudi Arabia does not recognise LGBT rights, and punishes homosexuality with capital punishment or death. Punishments range from chemical castration or jail to public executions.