Members of Congress Urge Saudi Ambassador to Protect Rights of LGBT Community
Washington, D.C. –– Human Rights First today applauded members of Congress for their bipartisan effort to express concern for human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Saudi Arabia. This concern was expressed in a letter, led by Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and signed by 34 members of Congress, which cited recent reports that a task force has been established to conduct sting operations targeting LGBT Saudis, particularly gay men, on social media. The letter also notes that there have been repeated calls for capital punishment for any citizen who identifies as a member of the LGBT community.
“We are grateful for Rep. Maloney’s leadership in highlighting the horrific climate of fear and hatred experienced by Saudi LGBT people, including recent calls for execution of Saudi citizens who publicly identify as LGBT,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We hope Saudi Ambassador Prince Abdullah Al Saud will carefully consider how the continued persecution of Saudi’s LGBT community will negatively impact the Kingdom’s bilateral relationship with the United States.”
The letter stressed respect for Saudi cultural traditions but warned that persecution of LGBT Saudis would directly impact bilateral relations between the kingdom and the United States.
“No one—regardless of where they live—should be subject to torture or capital punishment because of who they are or who they love,” said Rep. Maloney, who is co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “The reports are horrifying, unacceptable and demand an immediate response from the United States.”
Human Rights First has monitored the persecution of LGBT communities throughout the Middle East, marking an increase in monitoring of social media platforms to target and entrap LGBT individuals. In Saudi Arabia, under interpretation of sharia law, homosexuality can be punishable by the death penalty.