News Middle East

Thursday 23 November 2017

Saudi Arabia objects to gay rights mention in UN development plan

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir Credit: Reuters
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir Credit: Reuters

David Kearns

Saudi Arabia has protested any references to homosexuality in a new UN development program, saying it is "counter to Islamic law."

The protest was made by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, who told the UN General Assembly that "mentioning sex in the text, to us, means exactly male and female. Mentioning family means consisting of a married man and woman,” AP reports.

Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and punishments for those engaging in same-sex relationships in the world’s chief oil producer are brutal, and include being stoned to death and public beheading. 

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Mr Al-Jubeir stated Saudi Arabia had the right not to follow any agenda that runs "counter to Islamic law."

The Sustainable Development Goals program, amongst other things, is intended to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights by 2030.

Under Sharia law, which is practiced in Saudi Arabia, any married man found engaging in sodomy, or any non-Muslim who commits sodomy with a Muslim can be stoned to death.

Execution, chemical castration and imprisonment are some of the other punishments that can be handed out for those found guilty of homosexuality.

Read More: Saudi teen to be crucified for involvement in anti-Government protest

This latest controversy as Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was recently appointed the head of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council.

Trad was given the honor, despite reaffirming Riyadh’s opposition to gay rights in July at a UN Human Rights Council meeting, where he said calls for Saudi Arabia to support rights for same-sex couples were “unacceptable” and a “flagrant interference in its internal affairs.”

The decision was slammed by the non-governmental organization UN Watch, who have asked US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini to condemn the decision and work to reverse the appointment.

“It is scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

“Petrodollars and politics have trumped human rights.” 

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Saudi Arabia had already beheaded 175 people in the last 12 months, according to the human rights group Amnesty International.

Amnesty states that the lack of a criminal code in Saudi Arabia’s justice system is making things much worse, as this allows crimes and punishments to be interpreted as the prosecutor sees fit.

Earlier in September, Saudi Arabia upheld a decision to hand down a death sentence to Mohammed al-Nimr (20).

The 2--year-old- was arrested in February 2012 and accused of taking part in anti-government protests and illegally possessing firearms.

He was sentenced to death by crucifixion in 2014 following a signed confession that came after a court had failed to prove the charges against him.

His sentence is due to be carried out by beheading and crucifixion, a method that involves removing the head of the prisoner and tying their headless body to a cross.

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