Saudi officials raid shops for rainbow-coloured items in gay crackdown

Officials in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia have raided stores in the capital to take rainbow-colored toys and apparel as part of a crackdown against homosexuality, according to state television.

The state-run Al-Ekhbariya news station showed video showing authorities approaching stores, removing things from shelves, and stacking them on the floor while speaking to the camera.

According to a programme carried Tuesday evening by the state-run Al-Ekhbariya news station, the offending products comprise rainbow-colored ribbons, skirts, caps, and pencil bags, the majority of which appear to be designed for young kids.

A trade ministry official engaged in the campaign stated, they are offering a tour of the things that defy the Islamic religion and public morality and encourage gay colours to the younger generation.

A journalist points to a rainbow flag and adds, ‘The gay flag is visible at one of Riyadh’s marketplaces.’

According to the paper, the colours deliver a “toxic impression” to youngsters.

In another tweet, the trade ministry stated that its staff were seizing ‘items with symbols and signs advocating for deviation and defying common sense.’

It went on to say that retailers who continued to sell the infringing products would face serious action.

The raids follow a similar drive in December by neighbouring – and regional competitor – Qatar, which seized gifts that ‘went against Islamic norms.’

Homosexuality is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, which is recognised for its severe view of Islamic Sharia law, which serves as the foundation of the whole legal system.

Nevertheless, the Kingdom has a rather contradictory stance toward homosexuality, with gay acts being a traditional if clandestine element of society in a country where contacts between non-family men and women were severely prohibited until lately.

Sexual intercourse are only authorised between married men and women, with consensual same-sex sexual behaviour punished by death or whipping, based on the intensity of the case.

In April, the monarchy stated it urged Disney to remove ‘LGBTQ themes’ from the newest Marvel film, ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,’ but Disney declined.

The movie was never shown in Saudi theatres.

A source close to Disney told  that Disney’s latest cartoon, ‘Lightyear,’ which depicts a same-sex kiss, has also been prohibited in Saudi Arabia and more than a dozen other countries, while Riyadh has not commented on the film.

The Al-Ekhbariya story on Tuesday also included images of Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Doctor Strange,’ as well as supposedly foreign youngsters holding rainbow flags.

The report did not specify how many shops were raided or what products were taken during the commerce ministry investigation.

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