Two parties in the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia were the site of several arrests of people on suspicion of homosexuality last week. They are the latest crackdown by religious police in the conservative Muslim nation on "gay parties."
According to International Business Times, members of the Saudi religious police, known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, allegedly noted down the license plate numbers of cars parked near the site of the parties before the police raids, so that those who fled the scene could be tracked down.
Homosexuality is illegal under Shariah Law in Saudi Arabia. Punishments include flogging, chemical castration and imprisonment. Married men caught in homosexual acts can be stoned to death.
"The raids led to the arrest of several people, mainly gays, and netted locally produced alcoholic drinks and hashish," a source connected to the raids told Dubai-based Gulf News. "Those who were arrested were referred to a police station while those who fled the premises will be summoned since they were all identified."
According to Gulf News, in November, a court in the port city of Dammam in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province sentenced a homosexual man to three years in jail for engaging in "immoral acts." The man, in his 30s, was also ordered to pay a 100,000 Saudi riyal fine by the court.
Gay parties aren't new to Jeddah. "I've been invited to private parties for gay men in Jeddah, but I never go because I know what would happen if we were caught," a man named "Samir" said in a 2009 interview with ABC News.
"Unless it's a VIP house -- if the party is at the home of one of the princes or one of the sheiks then you're protected."