According to an article The Kingdom in the Closet in the May 2007 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, many in the Saudi population, both male and female, frequently engage in homosexual acts despite the fact that it is punishable by death under Islamic Sharia law.
Homosexuality seems risky in a kingdom sometimes called "The Land of The Two Holy Mosques", a reference to Mecca and Medina, Islam`s two holiest places. Much of the Kingdom`s law is derived from an ultra-conservative form of Sunni Islam commonly known as Wahhabism, which has zero tolerance for diversity.
According to Western Resistance, one of the reasons that a large segment of the Saudi population engages in homosexual acts is that it`s frankly easier to mingle with members of the same sex in the highly restrictive and oppressive regime--
According to Islamic law homosexuality is punishable by death. This punishment, however, is a poor deterrent. According to the article, most Saudi men become gay because it`s easier to pick up a man than to find a woman. The situation is the same for young women. The article claims that Saudi Arabia`s inhumane laws and dread morality police, which forbid dating between young men and women, in fact are a major factor pushing them towards homosexuality in their youth.
In his article, Queer Shiek, Being openly gay in Saudi Arabia used to be a death sentence-but times are changing, John R. Bradley describes the scene at a western-type mall in the city of Jeddah-Gay Saudi men now cruise certain malls and supermarkets, openly making passes at each other, and one street in Jeddah is said to have the most traffic accidents in the city because it is the most popular place for Saudi drivers to pick up gay Filipinos, who strut their stuff on the sidewalk in tight jeans and cut-off t-shirts. (Filipinos are one of the larger groups of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia.)
Meanwhile, gay and lesbian discos, gay-friendly coffee shops, and even gay oriented Internet chat rooms are now flourishing in some Saudi cities; in the chat rooms, gay and lesbian Saudis discuss the best places to meet people for one-night stands. "We talk about places that aren`t gay cruising areas, because they`re now in the minority," says one young gay Saudi, only half-jokingly.
These excerpts from the Atlantic Monthly article reflect some attitudes and realities about homosexuality in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia--Talal, a Syrian youth who moved to Riyadh in 2000, calls the Saudi capital a ``gay heaven.`` ``I used to have the feeling that I was the queerest in the country,`` said Yasser, a Saudi youth. ``But then I went to high school and discovered that there are others like me. Then I find out it`s a whole society.``
Many gay expatriates say they feel more at home in the kingdom than in their native lands. ``Guys romp around and parade in front of you,`` said Marco, a 41-year old gay man from the Philippines living in Saudi Arabia. ``They will seduce you. It`s up to you how many you want, every day.``
A magazine editor in Jeddah told me that many boys in Mecca, where he grew up have sexual relations with men, but they don`t see themselves as gay.
Homosexuality is considered to be a stage of life, particularly at youth.`` ``[Saudi Arabia] is the land of sand and sodomites,`` said Tasmin, a female student who told me about the lesbian enclave at her school. ``The older men take advantage of the little boys.``
Dave, a gay American teacher living in Saudi Arabia, put it this way: ``Let`s say there`s a group of men sitting around a cafe. If a smooth faced boy walks by, they all stop and make approving comments. They`re just noting: ``That`s a hot little number.``
It seems that these homosexual men and women are risking their lives. An Islamic cleric quoted at Front Page Magazine writes about the sin of homosexuality, "This sin, the impact of which makes one`s skin crawl, which words cannot describe, is evidence of perverted instincts, total collapse of shame and honor, and extreme filthiness of character and soul... The heavens, the Earth and the mountains tremble from the impact of this sin. The angels shudder as they anticipate the punishment of Allah to descend upon the people who commit this indescribable sin."
Amnesty International reports "gross human rights violations" in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, many against homosexuals, and reports incidents of capital punishment for homosexuals. A Chicago Free Press article reports this chilling story about the fate of three homosexual men in Saudi Arabia-
Now we learn that on January 1, 2002, Saudi Arabian authorities publicly beheaded three gay men after Islamic religious courts in the southwestern city of Abha declared them guilty of "engaging in the extreme obscenity and ugly acts of homosexuality, marrying among themselves and molesting the young," charges obviously exaggerated to provoke public outrage.
For the wealthy in Saudi Arabia, though, it appears that homosexuality is overlooked by the authorities. John Bradley writes- The upper crust of Saudi society is becoming more open as well. Carmen bin Laden, the sister-in-law of Osama bin Laden, recently published a book, in French, titled Inside the Kingdom, which is a look at the life of the idle Saudi rich. In the book, The New York Times reported this month, bin Laden tells stories of homosexual affairs among the kingdom`s wealthy and idle women. And Saudi anthropologist Mai Yamani has shown that all-female discos catering to rich Saudi women are often covers for lesbian get-togethers. Saudi princes, meanwhile, have frequented the Jeddah disco, where they openly interact with club-goers.
Is homosexuality in Saudi Arabia an "open secret" caused by a repressive Islamic regime that controls every aspect of its citizens` lives, including their sexuality under Sharia law? Is it the result of men-only and women-only interactions required by Muslim guidelines? Or, are the Saudis really coming out of the closet?
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