Saudi Arabia: Urgent appeal launched for 35 men facing flogging for attending 'gay wedding'

According to a recent Agence France Presse report, the sentences were imposed after the "gay wedding" took place in Jeddah in March. The men could be flogged at any time.

Amnesty International believes the men may be prisoners of conscience, punished solely for their sexual orientation. Four of the men (two Saudi Arabians, a Jordanian and a Yemeni) were sentenced by a court in Jeddah to 2,000 lashes and two years' imprisonment, and 31 others to 200 lashes and six months to one year in prison.

The report did not give any names or any further information as to the identity of the 35.

The information was apparently provided by a source close to one of the defendants.

Amnesty International has written to the Minister of the Interior seeking clarification of the report, expressing concern that the men have apparently been sentenced to flogging, and appealing for any such sentences to be commuted.

Flogging is mandatory in Saudi Arabia for a number of offences, including sexual offences, and can also be used at the discretion of judges as an alternative or addition to other punishments.

Sentences can range from dozens to thousands of lashes, and are usually administered 30 or 50 lashes at a time, at intervals ranging from two weeks to one month.

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