Saudi authorities beat blogger, subject him to anal exam and demand he ‘confess’ being gay – all because he supports LGBT+ rights
Human rights campaigners have called on Saudi Arabia to release blogger Mohamad al-Bokari, who was detained after stating his support for LGBT+ rights.
According to Human Rights Watch, al-Bokari was arrested on April 8 after an online Q&A in which he said: “Everyone has rights and should be able to practice them freely, including gay people.”
Al-Bokari, who is from Yemen but has been living in Saudi Arabia since last year, is accused of “violating public order and morals” with “sexual references”, the rights monitor quotes a Riyadh police spokesperson as saying.
Police subjected Mohamad al-Bokari to forced anal exam, a homophobic form of torture.
Sources in contact with al-Bokari, inside the Riyadh prison where he is being held, have raised fears about the cruel and degrading treatment he has received.
HRW reports that he was subjected to a forced anal exam by police to determine whether he is gay – a practice which has no basis in science or medicine and is condemned internationally as a form of torture and sexual assault.
The prisoner has also faced regular beatings from police in order to force him to “confess that he is gay”.
Saudi Arabia urged to ‘immediately’ release activist.
Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Saudi Arabia’s relentless policing of free expression reveals the hypocrisy of a government that has promised to carry out reforms.
“A government that arrests someone who merely speaks out on sensitive social issues eliminates the space for dialogue and reform.”
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He added: “We are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of Mohamad al-Bokari, whose life may be at risk if he is deported to Yemen.
“Saudi authorities should do the right thing and immediately release the young man, who was only expressing his opinion.”
Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia, where gay people can face imprisonment, violent punishments or even the death penalty under the country’s religious immorality laws.
Vigilante attacks are also common, while authorities are known to ‘hunt’ for gay people.
Last year, two gay Saudi journalists sought asylum in Australia over fears they would be killed in their home country.
The two men, known by pseudonyms Sultan and Nassar, were placed in a detention centre upon arrival in Australia – and were only released after a campaign led by the Australian LGBT+ community