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Saudi Arabia arrests five gays in health club scandal

Saudi religious police arrested five gay men during a raid on a health club in the Kingdom's capital, Riyadh
Saudi religious police arrested five gay men during a raid on a health club in the Kingdom's capital, Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s notorious religious police shut a health club after seizing five local gays in a raid triggered by a tip-off about the club’s ‘suspicious activities'.

Members of the religious police, known in the oil rich kingdom as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, raided on Saturday (20 October) a health club located in the north of Riyadh, the country’s capital, and arrested the five gay men.

‘During the raid, they seized five gays, who possessed condoms…some of the condoms contained semen' stated Kabar newspaper.

The newspaper appears to suggest this was not an isolated incident and some men used the club for sexual meets, hence 'the authorities also decided to shut the club permanently’ .

The law in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not strictly codified and its implementation, in either a lenient or severe manner, depends mostly on religious Sunni judges and scholars, as well as royal decrees (and thus subject to extreme variability).

Generally speaking punishment range from imprisonment and/or flogging to the death penalty. Conviction and severity of punishments depends on the social class, religion and citizenship of the accused, whereby non-western migrant workers receive usually harsher treatment than upper class Saudi citizens.

The religious police encourage reporting of any ‘deviant’ behavior and deliberately entrap people for homosexuality, for example a British male nurse who was recently entrapped via fake SMS sent by the religious police.

Entrapment by the religious police does not necessarily lead to prosecution, but often results in life-long financial and/or sexual blackmail.

Ali, a 31 year old gay law student in Jeddah told Gay Star News: ‘The fact that Kabar reported this case is very worrying, even if they are released these guys will always be in trouble. 

‘However, if they are to be put on trial it could prove very dangerous for them.’

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