‘I’m straight and I love gays’ Saudi Arabia’s most surprising Twitter trend
"Proud to be queer and Muslim", London Gay Pride Parade, 2010 (Flickr)
Homosexuality may carry the death penalty in ultraconservative Saudi Arabia, but that did not stop a number of brave activists taking to Twitter last week to declare “I’m straight and I love gays”.
The declaration of solidarity would be striking in any Western nation, but coming as it did from a country which beheads married men found guilty of "sodomy", the Arabic language hashtag made quite a statement.
Peaking at number four worldwide, the trend caused waves on the social media site, as the Middle East's LGBT community and its allies made their opinions known.
Please help support the Arab LGBTQ community #احب_المثليين_ولست_منهم— Jack (@sadnemocupcake) February 3, 2017
#احب_المثليين_ولست_منهم مالكم حق بقتلنا او تعذيبنا احنا جينا على الدنيا بهذا الميول بدون ارادتنا— wev (@xcc351) February 2, 2017
You do not have the right to kill or torture us, we came to the world this way inclined, regardless of our will.
The hashtag got so big that it even received international expressions of support, including from Istanbul-based journalist Bradley Secker:
Very interesting to see this hashtag at number 4 globally, in Arabic. "I love gays/LGBTs but I'm not one" #احب_المثليين_ولست_منهم— Bradley Secker (@bradleysecker) February 3, 2017
And the British Gay Star News publication:
Across the Arab world, LGBT individuals face prejudice and maltreatment, both at a societal level and when it comes to the law. Execution is the punishment for “sodomy” in Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, while the majority of their neighbors impose lengthy prison sentences for homosexuality.
It is not all bad, though. Last week, a landmark decision saw a Lebanese judge rule that a gay couple could not be prosecuted for having a sexual relationship, as homosexuality is a “natural right”. Here’s hoping that the attitudes of this judge, and the Twitter users behind this trend, spread to the parliaments and lawmakers of the region.