A newspaper in Saudi Arabia has reported that prosecutors in the country are pushing to enforce the death penalty for homosexuality – because social media is turning people gay.
It is often difficult to confirm data about gay people charged under Saudi Arabia’s justice system, as consensual homosexual acts are often legally indistinguishable from rape or paedophilia under the country’s laws.
But Okaz, a daily newspaper located in Jeddah, reports that as many as 35 cases have been brought against gay men for ‘obscene’ behaviour in the past six months, while the state is also pursuing a number of alleged ‘cross-dressers’.
The Washington Blade reports that prosecutors in the cases are pushing for harsher penalties including the death penalty for people convicted of homosexual crimes, in particular due to fears surrounding social media.
Okaz reports that there has been a surge in “abnormal behaviour” due to the boom in internet use, and that people are becoming “increasingly bold” about their so-called abnormalities.
A spokesperson for the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor told the Washington Blade that it is “aware of these reports, but cannot verify their accuracy, adding: “We continue to gather more information.”
Amid the surge in cases, a man in Saudi Arabia was arrested for flying the rainbow flag at his home.
The doctor, who lives in Jeddah, apparently didn’t know the flag represented LGBT+ pride.
He says he bought the flag online after one of his children said they liked the “pretty” design.