Gay Saudi diplomat seeks U.S. asylum

The former first secretary of Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Los Angeles has
requested asylum in the United States because he says he’ll be executed
for being gay if he returns home.

“If I go back to Saudi Arabia, they will kill me openly in broad
daylight,” Ali Ahmad Asseri e-mailed media outlets in mid-September.

Asseri said Saudi officials ordered him home after finding out he’s gay
and is friends with a Jew. He apparently has been in hiding since.

The U.S. does grant asylum to foreign gays if the U.S. is convinced they
face genuine harm in their native lands. The laws treat gay asylum-seekers
as members of “a particular social group.”

Saudi Arabia’s entry in the United States’ 2009 State Department Human
Rights Reports says: “Under Shari’a as interpreted in the country, sexual
activity between two persons of the same gender is punishable by death or
flogging. It is illegal for men ‘to behave like women’ or to wear women’s
clothes and vice versa. There were few reports of societal discrimination,
physical violence, or harassment based on sexual orientation. There were
no organizations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. There
was no official discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment,
housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care. Sexual
orientation could constitute the basis for harassment, blackmail, or other
actions. No such cases were reported.”

The entry continues: “On June 13, Riyadh police arrested 67 men from the
Philippines for drinking and dressing in women’s clothing at a private
party. According to their embassy, police released the men to their
employers while charges were being processed. In 2007 the newspaper Okaz
reported the public flogging of two men in the city of Al-Bahah after
being found guilty of sodomy. The sentence was 7,000 lashes.”

By Rex Wockner


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