A Saudi Arabian man was arrested last week for flying a rainbow flag from his house in the city of Jeddah. The Muslim nation's notorious morality police later released the man on bail.
The Saudi doctor claimed he had no idea that the rainbow flag represented the LGBT community and is an important symbol of gay rights worldwide. He purchased the flag on the internet because of its attractive colors, according to his testimony to the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
Homosexuality punishable by death
Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country that embraces a branch of Islam called Wahabism. This strict interpretation of the Koran has made Saudi Arabia one of the most oppressive regimes in the Muslim world. Public executions and mutilations are common.
Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and those convicted of a homosexual affair can be sentenced to death. Saudi religious authorities operate their own police force that regulates the personal morality of its citizens. Adultery, pre-marital sex and a range of other behaviors are punishable by death, imprisonment or torture.
Saudis a key partner in fight against ISIS
Saudi Arabia is a strong opponent of Islamic State (ISIS), though it has not contributed troops or equipment directly to the fight against the self-proclaimed caliphate. Saudi support is seen as key to preventing ISIS terror attacks, like those in Brussels last week.
ISIS leaders have targeted much of their rhetoric at Saudi Arabia. Islamic State's interpretation of Islam differs from the Saudi state's ideology. The Saudi government is also a key US ally and has contributed to the fight against Al Qaeda on the Arabian peninsula. This makes Saudi Arabia a major target for ISIS.
Reports of Saudi Arabia's treatment of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people are not uncomfortable reading for its western allies.