Mohamad al-Bokari
Mohamad al-Bokari
Photo: Twitter
Mohamad al-Bokari

Yemeni blogger jailed by Saudi court for supporting equal gay rights

Human Rights Watch says kingdom sentenced refugee Mohamad al-Bokari to 10 months in prison, $2,600 fine and deportation after he expressed support for LGBTQ+ rights on social media

Reuters |
Published: 07.28.20 , 17:54
A Saudi court has sentenced a Yemeni blogger to 10 months in prison, a fine of 10,000 riyals ($2,600) and deportation for a social media post supporting equal rights for people in same-sex relationships, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
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  • The group said Mohamad al-Bokari fled Yemen in June 2019 and was living as an undocumented migrant in Saudi Arabia when he was arrested on April 8 for a Twitter video that drew online condemnation from Saudis and calls for his arrest.
    Mohamad al-Bokari Mohamad al-Bokari
    Mohamad al-Bokari
    (Photo: Twitter )
    In the video, seen by Reuters, Bokari was asked by one of his Twitter followers for his view of same-sex relations, to which he replied, "Everyone has rights and should be able to practice them freely, including gay people."
    In a statement to Saudi-owned Al Arabiya confirming Bokari's arrest, the spokesman for Riyadh's police department said in April that the video contained "sexual references" which "violate public order and morals".
    Policemen wearing gloves and face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, provide security for pilgrims, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia Policemen wearing gloves and face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, provide security for pilgrims, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
    Saudi Police officers in Mecca
    (Photo: AP)
    Bokari was charged with violating public morality, "promoting homosexuality online" and "imitating women," said HRW, adding it showed authorities discriminated against Bokari for his "perceived sexual orientation and gender expression."
    A Reuters request for comment to Saudi Arabia's government media office went unanswered.
    Bokari was sentenced on July 20 and has 30 days from that date to appeal.
    Saudi Arabia has no codified legal system and no laws regarding sexual orientation or gender identity. Judges have convicted people for "immorality", having sexual relations outside of marriage, and homosexual sex.

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