In June we reported that Human Rights Watch had called on Saudi authorities to release a Yemeni blogger and human rights activist detained since April 8 after posting a video on social media in which he answered questions from his followers, including one in which he expressed support for LGBTQ people, saying: “Everyone has rights and should be able to practice them freely, including gay people.”
On July 20, the blogger, Mohamad al-Bokari, a Yemeni living in Riyadh, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and a fine of 10,000 Saudi Riyals (US $2,700), according to Human Rights Watch. Al-Bokari received no counsel during the trial and has 30 days to appeal.
Shaker bin Suleiman Al-Tuwaijri, the media spokesman for the Riyadh police department, said that the blogger’s video contained “sexual references” that “violate public order and morals” and mandated intervention by authorities, according to HRW.
HRW wrote, back in June: “The source in contact with al-Bokari told Human Rights Watch that he is being held in pretrial detention under physical and psychological duress, and that the police repeatedly kicked and slapped him when they arrested him to compel him to ‘confess that he is gay.’ Al-Bokari, who suffers from a chronic heart condition, told the source that he has been having difficulty breathing, eating, and sleeping, and that his psychological and physical health are deteriorating. He also said that police have beaten him every day since his arrest. The source said that al-Bokari was subjected to a forced anal exam, an internationally discredited practice used to seek ‘proof’ of homosexual conduct. The practice has no scientific basis, violates medical ethics, and constitutes cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment that can rise to the level of torture. Although no specific charges were brought against him, the authorities accused al-Bokari of being a ‘sodomizer’ who is ‘imitating women,’ and ‘violating public order’ by ‘publicly defending homosexuality online,’ the source said.”