Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saudi Arabia's juggling act on homosexuality

As a gay diplomat seeks US asylum, Saudi Arabia seems torn between wanting a civilised image and appeasing traditionalists

Brian Whitaker
guardian.co.uk, Monday 13 September 2010

"Saudi Arabia may be a miserable place to live, but it's not very often that a Saudi diplomat seeks refuge in the United States. The last time it happened was in 1994.

At the weekend, though, it emerged that Ali Ahmad Asseri, first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, has applied for asylum in the US on the grounds that he is gay. He says his employers have refused to renew his diplomatic passport – effectively terminating his job – after finding out about his sexuality. He adds they were also unhappy about his friendship with a Jewish woman.....

Saudi Arabia is one of four Arab countries where homosexual acts are not only illegal but punishable by execution. The others are Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen; the same applies in non-Arab Iran, just across the Gulf from Saudi Arabia....."

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