Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April 2021, 09:48 GMT

Saudi Arabia: The situation of homosexuals, including treatment by authorities and legal penalties

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 16 August 2002
Citation / Document Symbol SAU39445.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Saudi Arabia: The situation of homosexuals, including treatment by authorities and legal penalties, 16 August 2002, SAU39445.E, available at: [accessed 22 April 2021]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association's (ILGA) World Legal Survey, homosexual acts are illegal in Saudi Arabia, and are punishable by the maximum penalty of death (23 June 2000). The survey further states that male homosexuality (sodomy in particular) is treated like fornication, with the penalty involving stoning, flogging or banishment depending on the circumstances of the act (ibid.). Female same-sex behaviour is treated as adultery and is punishable by stoning to death for married people or flogging for single people (ibid.).

In 1996, 24 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to 200 lashes each for homosexual behaviour (ibid.).

In 2000, nine Saudi Arabian nationals were flogged for "deviant sexual behaviour" (ibid.).

In January 2002, Saudi Arabia executed three men for "sodomy, marriage among themselves, and inciting pedophilia" (Paris Le Monde 4 Jan. 2002). The three men were beheaded by sword in public (ibid.). Amnesty International, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and all claim the executions were conducted on account of the three men's homosexuality (9 Jan. 2002; 8 Jan. 2002; 3 Jan. 2002).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References 3 January 2002. "Saudi Gay Men Publicly Beheaded." [Accessed 14 Aug. 2002]

Amnesty International. 9 January 2002. "Saudi Arabia: 'Sexual Orientation' Executions Condemned." [Accessed 18 Aug. 2002]

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). 8 January 2002. "Saudi Arabia: Protest the Death Penalty for Homosexual Conduct in Saudi Arabia." [Accessed 14 Aug. 2002]

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). 23 June 2000. World Legal Survey. [Accessed 14 Aug. 2002]

Paris Le Monde. 4 January 2002. "Martyrized Homosexuals." (FBIS-NES-2002-0104 4 Jan. 2002/WNC)

Additional Sources Consulted

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

IRB databases.


World News Connection (WNC).

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International.

Derechos Human Rights.

Gay/Lesbian International News Network (GLINN).

Gay Today.

Human Rights Internet (HRI).

Human Rights Watch (HRW).

UK, IND Country Assessments.

United Nations.

Women Living Under Muslim Laws.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld