Authorities in Mauritania, where homosexuality is punishable by death, have arrested 10 in connection with a suspected same-sex wedding that turned out to be a birthday party.
The authorities opened their investigation after online video of the celebration sparked rumors that it was the country’s first same-sex wedding. Although police later determined it was a birthday party, the men remain jailed with no trial date.
Here’s the video:
The AP reports: Mauritania practices strict Islamic law known as Shariah and homosexuality is criminalized. If convicted, the men could face the death penalty though executions have not been carried out in more than a decade, according to Amnesty International. “It is a serious attack on the individual and collective freedom of these young people who have the right to display their difference and intimate preferences,” said Brahim Bilal, the president of a human rights organization in Mauritania.
More from Agence France-Presse: “The prosecutor’s office sent the young homosexual delinquents to prison to await judgment for acts contrary to morality, committing acts forbidden by Allah and circulating a ceremony of debauchery,” a source told AFP. Police commissioner Mohamed Ould Nejib, speaking on television, said investigators had established the party was “the birthday celebration of a homosexual” to which other gay men were invited. The 10 were detained “to help investigations”, he said.
The Node reports that Mauritanians reacted to the video by complaining that the number of homosexuals is increasing in the country, and demanding that the government impose harsher punishments: The Mauritanian blogger, Hamada El Bou, shared the video with a caption that says “if it was up to me, I’d put these two damned creatures in prison for life, where they never see the sun.” .. A Mauritanian blogger, Avatis Labat, shared the video of the said wedding, saying that she considers gay marriage “a crime that must be fought,” adding, “authorities, sheikhs and leaders of public opinion must take the necessary measures to stop this crime with the most severe penalties, in order to serve as an example for those who dare to do such a criminal act that is contrary to our religious and Islamic values.”