October 18, 2016 at 11:53 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Three ‘effeminate’ men arrested at Saudi Arabia Starbucks

Police on Oct. 13 arrested three "effeminate" men who were at a Starbucks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Police on Oct. 13 arrested three “effeminate” men who were at a Starbucks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Saudi police last week arrested three “effeminate” men at a Starbucks in the country’s capital.

The man behind the Saudi LGBT Twitter account told the Washington Blade that a gay friend said officers arrested the men — who were all under 20 — at a Starbucks on Riyadh’s King Abdullah Road on Oct. 13.

Agents with the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — the so-called “religious police” that enforces Sharia law in Saudi Arabia — were reportedly with the officers when they arrested the three men between 10 p.m. and midnight.

“[This is the] busiest time for restaurants and cafes in Riyadh, considering that the weekend there is Fridays and Saturdays,” said the man behind the Saudi LGBT Twitter account, who has previously asked the Blade not to publish his name.

He said the officers arrested the three men because Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice agents are “no longer allowed to make arrests.” The man behind the Saudi LGBT Twitter account told the Blade on Tuesday that authorities released the men “shortly after” they were arrested.

Saudi law bans men from behaving ‘like women’

The State Department’s 2015 human rights report notes it is illegal in Saudi Arabia for men “to behave like women” or to wear women’s clothing.

Media reports indicate that authorities in Taif, a city that is roughly 470 miles south-southwest of Riyadh, arrested a man in late 2015 who was wearing an abaya, a black cloak that women in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries wear, at a shopping mall.

Police and agents with the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in 2014 arrested 35 gay men — many of whom were wearing women’s clothing — at a party in the city of Jiddah on the Red Sea.

The man behind the Saudi LGBT Twitter page told the Blade that such raids are “not uncommon.” He said the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice directs the police to carry them out in order to “send a message.”

Saudi Arabia is among the handful of countries in which homosexuality remains punishable by death.

“The dangerous thing about these raids is that they are completely unexpected and random, and there are no way to know who will be arrested,” said the man behind the Saudi LGBT Twitter page. “Usually the ‘gayer’ you look the more likely you are to be arrested. But you can be arrested for just looking at the religious police funny or filming them. It is completely random.”

He told the Blade that those who are arrested in such raids could face “humiliation, torture or even sexual abuse.”

Neither the Saudi government nor Starbucks have returned requests for comment.

Saudi Arabia, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image by NormanEinstein; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Mark Hatchett

    How much money has Hillary Clinton accepted from Saudi Arabia?

    • lnm3921

      How much money has Miss Milo made as a courtesan? How much is your cut to post here?

      Further, since Trump won’t release his tax returns, we don’t know if he’s invested in places like Saudi Arabia. Given Trumps defense of Putin and Russia, a vehemently anti-GLBT country with it’s non-propaganda laws, he’s likely invested there, too!

      When is Miss Milo going to sashay in Moscow or St. Petersburg waving a rainbow flag? She claims to be our defender against the Muslim hoards, why not Cossacks? Better yet let her march in Saudi Arabia!!! She’s not afraid of being arrested or beaten after all for the cause!

      • Mark Hatchett

        How much money has Hillary Clinton accepted from Saudi Arabia? Didn’t think I would get an answer from the gay gestapo. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2015/02/18/foreign-donations-to-hillary-clintons-foundation-raise-major-ethical-questions/?utm_term=.73067f4c74a4

        • lnm3921

          I thought we were the gay mafia. If we are the gestapo does that make miss milo Eva Braun?

          We didn’t get an answer from you on trump’s overseas hidden investments either!

          • Mark Hatchett

            Why would I know anything about Mr. Trumps investments? He has stated he has none in Russia but we do know Hillary Clinton made a tidy sum selling 20% of USA uranium ore to the Russians. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html

          • lnm3921

            And trump of course is so honest and trustworthy we can take him at face value despite his constant flip fllops and denials!

            Trump is your hero isn’t he? He’s your miss milo’s daddy. Why wouldn’t you know?

            Ask you Russia and weakileaks cyber terrorist allies.

            Heck you seem to think you know everything about Hillary including the color of her panties so why would you not know if trump wears underpants?

          • Mark Hatchett

            Sorry you are no fun. I’m always right and you are always wrong and nonsensical on top of that. I’m out of here.

          • lnm3921

            That’s fine. Keep telling yourself that. When Hillary wins on November 8 you can hide in humiliation.

            Have fun watching Hillary beat trump in the debate!

      • David Webb

        Ouch! Looks like Mark struck a nerve. But just like the FBI’s investigation into Hillary’s email remains, so does the question:

        How much money has Hillary accepted from Saudi Arabia?

        We already know that Hillary has, and continues to accept, substantial sums of cash from Saudi Arabia in exchange for access to high-level U.S. government officials and regional defense provided by the U.S. military on taxpayer dollars.

        Deflecting with snide, demeaning remarks about Trump or Milo does nobody any good, except expose blatant and irrational bias.

        • lnm3921

          You’ll be ouching once Hillary is elected despite your feeble email whinings!

  • What does this mean for Starbucks?

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