by Rex Wockner
International News Briefs
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."