Footage from what appears to be the wedding of two men in Saudi Arabia has gone viral and lead to multiple arrests.
Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and can lead to punishments of death, incarceration, public floggings or torture.
The video shows two men dressed in traditional Saudi Arabia thawbs – an ankle-length Arab garment, usually with long sleeves.
They appear to be walking down the aisle together while music plays and other men shower them with confetti.
The wedding happened in the Aradiyat governate of Saudi Arabia near the holy city of Mecca – the holiest site for all Muslims and host to millions of pilgrims every year.
Saudi online newspaper al-Marsd reported local authorities were carrying out an investigation into the video. Aradiyat governate official, Ali bin Youssef al-Sharif told al-Marsd it would release more information once it had verified the videos.
According to al-Sharif the wedding was raided by police and several men were arrested.
The video of the same-sex wedding quickly went viral on social media in Saudi Arabia sparking a range of responses.
Many of those opposed to the men’s wedding argued homosexual activity should not be allowed near the holy site of Mecca.
‘Since 2013, the phenomenon of homosexuality has been increasing in Mecca, and perhaps the response for respectable people is to purge Mecca of this corruption, which stems mainly from foreigners,’ one Twitter user wrote.
منذ عام 2013 وظاهره المثليين تتزايد بمكه ولعل هذا يقود إلى الاستجابه لمطالب الشرفاء بأهميه تطهير مكه من هذا الفساد الذي أغلبه من الاجانب #مواليد_السعودية #زواج_مثليين_بمكة
هذا خبر اليوم((تحقيقات موسعة مع عدد من الشبان أقاموا حفلاً لزواج شابين #مثليين في #العرضيات )) pic.twitter.com/FROZHpmIjk
— alhothly (@MARAMSAAD3322) January 3, 2018
‘In the purest spot on earth… Two homosexuals marry in Saudi Arabia,’ another Twitter user wrote.
But those who supported the same-sex wedding attributed it to the more modern values of Saudi Arabia’s new leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
— علي السليطي (@AliAlSliti01) January 3, 2018
The Crown Prince has introduced a modernization project known as Vision 2030. One of the aims of the project is to increase women’s rights including lifting the country’ infamous driving ban.
‘This is the new Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Mohammed bin Salman,’ one Twitter user wrote.
Not the first gay Saudi wedding
In January 2016, police raided the apartment of four men in the capital Riyadh who were living as married couples. Both couples admitted to having been married in the weeks leading up to the raid.
In October last year, Saudi Arabia was one of 13 countries that refused to sign a United Nations resolution to guarantee that the death penalty would not be used in a ‘discriminatory matter’, such as punishing people with death for consensual same-sex relations.
The last time the death penalty was used for homosexuality was in 2005, according to the New Arab. Two men in a relationship were believed to have murdered a Pakistani man after he found out they were together.