Pride for LGBT Saudis: Protesting for LGBT Prisoners

The Saudi Diaspora Association, a movement that advocates for freedom, justice, liberty, and equality in Saudi Arabia, is organizing an international organization in Saudi Arabian embassies.

Called the Suhail Pride 2022, the event calls for the immediate release of Suhail Alyahya, imprisoned in Saudi for being gay in a Muslim-majority country. The event is also a show of solidarity for the members of the LGBTQ+ community in Saudi Arabia.

In October 2019, Alyahya Tweeted a picture of himself wearing revealing swimwear. In the Tweet, Alyahya said that he missed the sun. In the same month, he was arrested by the Saudi authorities and was sentenced to three years in prison in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

He also received 800 lashes for a crime that should not exist in a free world.

In his article, “The Gay Gladiators of Saud Arabia,” Wajeeh Lion, a journalist, human rights activist, and a champion of LGTBQ rights, said that there is no such thing as “LGBTQ rights” in Saudi Arabia. Lion also recalled Alyahya’s previous incarceration in February 2018 when he was charged with parental disobedience, a law in which parents hold their children in contempt.

Lion, an openly gay man from Saudi Arabia, has worked tirelessly to advocate “for human rights, anti-violence, and LGBTQ+ rights.”

In an interview with the Atheist Republic News Team, Zac Alrayyis, one of the organizers of Suhail Pride 2022, said their goal this time is “focused on a broader civil rights issue, not just one prisoner.” He is also a part of organizations that advocate for the end of the war in Yemen.

Zac grew up in Saudi Arabia, left the kingdom in 2018, and is currently based in Germany. He has actively advocated for human rights, including LGBTQ rights and equality. He said he had gone back to Saudi Arabia and noticed that the “political developments and freedom of opinion have gotten worse.”

Zac is also a volunteer at Atheist Alliance International, which helps ex-Muslims move to safer places. Atheist Alliance International is also a sponsor of Suhail Pride 2022.

On June 26 last year, the first Suhail Pride event included vigils in front of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in different countries. “We held vigils in front of the embassies in Berlin, Dublin, and London,” Zac said.

“Last year was focused on light shows and slogans, advocating for Suhail’s immediate release,” Zac added.

“The goal now is broader,” he said. This time there will be an emphasis on the human rights situation and the LGBTQ rights in Saudi Arabia. According to Zac, he and his team has sent emails and invitations to members of the German parliament. “We got responses from them; they support us but do not have time to do anything about it,” he said.

The organizers of Suhail Pride 2022 also recognize the role of the media in spreading their message.

“As long as the world pays attention to [it] Suhail’s case, the Saudi Arabian government will feel the pressure of our demand,” Zac explained.

“Realistically, this is the best we can hope for,” he added.

The Suhail Pride 2022 will be held in Berlin on July 23, 2022.

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