Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is punishable by death, now claims to welcome LGBTQ+ visitors, despite the country’s horrific track record on LGBTQ+ rights and treatment of queer residents.
The kingdom’s tourist website, visitsaudi.com, has updated its official advice for LGBTQ+ travelers.
The website’s help section now asks, “Are LGBT visitors welcome in Saudi Arabia?” The response reads: “We don’t ask anyone to disclose personal details and never have. Everyone is welcome to visit our country.”
Journalist Wajeeh Lion, an openly gay Saudi who has asylum in the United States, tweeted: “It’s very sad to see a country criminalize the LGBT community and welcome them at the same time.
Welcoming international visitors who are LGBTQ+ is at odds with the kingdom’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights for its residents, which are relatively non-existent.
Saudi Arabia remains one of the few countries where homosexuality is punishable by the death penalty.
In the kingdom, Sharia Law also forbids ‘cross-dressing’, there are no anti-discrimination protections for queer people and LGBTQ+ personnel are banned from serving openly in the military.
LGBTQ+ activists and public figures have faced persecution including lashings and imprisonment for offending “public morality” by being LGBTQ+ publicly, such as in TikTok videos.