Last Friday, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) sent a bipartisan letter to Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States expressing concern about recent reports of horrible abuses against LGBTQ people. The letter, which was signed by 33 other Members of Congress, emphasized to the Saudi government that United States officials stand with vulnerable minorities in the face of government oppression.

The letter cites recent reports of torture and capital punishment against LGBT people. The letter also notes that a Joint Security Task Force to Fight against Sexual Anomaly is investigating and charging members of the LGBTQ community like pedophiles and rapists. The letter makes clear that torturing and executing LGBTQ people is a violation of human rights and could impact the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia.

HRC’s Director of Government Affairs David Stacy commended Rep. Maloney for highlighting this troubling issue.

"LGBTQ people in the Middle East continue to face enormous challenges, from social stigma to persecution and violence,” Stacy said in a press release. “With the rise of ISIL and other jihadist groups in the region, the pressure has gotten worse, and it is crucial that we stand up for the human rights of Saudi LGBT people, as Rep. Maloney and his colleagues have, to make it clear that crimes against them will not go unnoticed."

This month, the U.S. Department of State released its annual human rights report, which painted a bleak picture for LGBTQ rights in Saudi Arabia. The report stated that consensual same-sex sexual conduct is punishable by death or flogging in Saudi Arabia and that it is illegal for men to wear women’s clothing or behave like women and vice versa. In addition, it details that LGBTQ people in Saudi Arabia are the victims of harassment, physical violence, discrimination and blackmail. A compilation of the information from the State Department’s report regarding sexual orientation and gender identity can be found here.

HRC is committed to advocating for the rights of LGBTQ people in Saudi Arabia and around the globe. Through HRC Global, HRC advocates for LGBTQ equality around the world through public education, fellowships, partnerships and research. In addition, HRC advocates for legislation like the Global Respect Act, which would provide a means to prevent individuals who violate the human rights of LGBTQ people from entry into the United States.

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