White House spokesman Erick Shultz told reporters Thursday that President Obama planned to meet with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman on Friday. Shultz spoke at a press briefing (conducted on Air Force One en route from Washington to Orlando) and informed reporters the purpose of the meeting would be “to further discuss issues of mutual concern and cooperation, including the situations in Yemen and Syria, our campaign against ISIL, Saudi Arabia’s national transformation program of reforming its economy.”
But critics charge the president was insensitive for meeting with Saudis just days after the massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday. Saudi Arabia classifies homosexuality as a crime punishable by death.
— Jared Wyand (@JaredWyand) June 17, 2016
As the Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers reported in March, being gay in Saudi Arabia is criminal. “A published report indicates that people who come out online in Saudi Arabia could face the death penalty,” Lavers wrote. “Oraz, a Saudi newspaper, reported on Saturday that prosecutors in the city of Jiddah have proposed the penalty in response to dozens of cases they have prosecuted over the last six months. These include 35 people who received prison sentences for sodomy.”
And prison sentences are not given just to gay men. Prison terms also apply to cross-dressers. Lavers continued, “Okaz reported that Jiddah authorities have prosecuted 50 cases in which men allegedly dressed as women.”
Obama lets the Saudi prince, from a country that executes its gays, visit the WH days after Orlando. No morality, just political corruption.
— Kenji Japra (@kenjijapra) June 17, 2016
Sympathizers are also targeted, according to the Washington Blade. “A doctor who lives in the port city on the Red Sea has been released on bail after officials arrested him for allegedly raising an LGBT Pride flag over his home,” Lavers wrote.
Lavers said he conducted an interview with “a gay Saudi man who lives outside the kingdom” and was told the new penalties are being applied to the entire country and fear in the LGBT community is the result.