Thursday, 28 May 2009

Armenian American reporter Lara Setrakian of ABC News about gay scene in Saudi Arabia and across Middle East

Armenian American reporter Lara Setrakian, "a one-woman ABC news bureau in Dubai", posted an extensive report on gay scene in Saudi Arabia and across Middle East:

Saudi Gay Scene: 'Forbidden, but I can't Help It'
Across the Middle East, Many Struggle With the Stigma of Homosexuality

[...] Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but the charge calls for four witnesses to make a case. Arrests by the religious police are far more arbitrary. In a recent case they apprehended one man at a Jeddah shopping mall, suspecting he was gay from his tight jeans and fitted shirt.

"I've been invited to private parties for gay men in Jeddah, but I never go because I know what would happen if we were caught," Samir told ABC News.

"Unless it's a VIP house -- if the party is at the home of one of the princes or one of the sheiks then you're protected."

In Saudi Arabia, where men and women are strictly separated, there is some space for gay life. Gay men can go cruising -- a term for picking up partners -- and socialize in male-only sections of cafes and restaurants. In line with sex-segregated social norms, gay lovers can often spend intimate time together without arousing suspicion.

But gays and lesbians in Saudi Arabia still need to accommodate the pressures of public life, in some cases pairing off to accommodate a freer lifestyle.

"There is a gay group of girls in Saudi looking for gay men to marry. It's the perfect solution," says Samir, adding that he wouldn't mind a lesbian wife of his own. [...]

Online Freedom but With Entrapment Risks
Gay Web Sites Blocked in Many Arab Countries
U.S. Government Has Been Quiet About Gay Crackdown in Iraq
Small Space for Gay Pride

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