A new report out of Saudi Arabia states that Saudi citizens who come out online could face the death penalty.
Okaz, a Saudi newspaper, released a report on Saturday that prosecutors out of the city of Jiddah have proposed the new penalty in response to dozens of cases city officials have prosecuted over the last six months, which includes the sentencing of 35 individuals for sodomy.
In addition to these 35 cases, Okaz reports that over 50 cases have been filed against men who were caught dressing as women, and that one case was brought against a doctor who raised a LGBT pride flag in his front yard.
The proposal put forth by Jiddah, to monitor the internet and violently punish individuals who come out online, has shaken members of Saudi Arabia’s LGBT community.
As Saudi Arabia remains firm in it stance that consensual same-sex activity is punishable by death, the internet has become the one safe space through which LGBT Saudis can interact with one another. If the measures taken in Jiddah were to extend to the rest of the country, this safe space would be destroyed.
“We can’t do a thing about it, but try to make some noise so activists from other countries would hear about it and talk to their politicians to pressure Saudi to change its policies,” said one anonymous Saudi Twitter user to the Washington Blade.
“The Internet is the only safe haven to LGBT individuals in the Middle East. If this is taken from us, we won’t have anywhere else to go.”
Many activists, both in and outside of Saudi Arabia, have taken to Twitter to express their disdain for the proposed statute, tweeting messages alongside the hashtag لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي, which translates to “You will not terrorize me. I’m gay.”
No one can pick if they're born Saudi or American, gay or straight. Equal rights for all! #لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي
— ☆ OTEP SHAMAYA ☆ (@otepofficial) March 26, 2016
— ⵣ (@NORTHAFRICANS) March 27, 2016
Show solidarity ❤️
— Samy Nemir Olivares (@Samynemir) March 26, 2016
Imagine living under a government that kills their own people instead of letting them live and love who they love #لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي
— ✨ (@feminizza) March 26, 2016
Western LGBTs, go support your Saudi Arabian brothers and sisters who are sentenced to death for being JUST LIKE YOU. #لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي
— Mavi. (@Maviloss) March 26, 2016
we simply want to live the life we choose .. and we hv chosen to accept and love ourselves so plz let us be ! #لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي
— Reem (@clumsyofus) March 26, 2016
The US State Department, which counts Saudi Arabia as a key ally, has yet to comment on this horrifying proposition.