There is a huge underground culture forming amongst gay men in Saudi Arabia even though by law the act of homosexuality can be punishable by death. The strict division between genders, which is enforced by the Mutawwa’in, defiantly provokes these acts of homosexuality amongst Saudi men. The Mutawwa’in is the religious authority that is active in part with the government to enforce,“The promotion of virtue and prevention of vice”. Basically in Saudi Arabia they have moral police patrolling the streets that really focus on keeping the division between the sexes.
Many Saudi citizens fear being stopped by the Mutawwa’in because of the governmental and social power these policemen hold. Men and women cannot be seen in public together unless they are related and must always carry their ID’s with them in case they are stopped and questioned about their relations. Therefore some men simply find it easier to be a gay man in this divided society.
Yasser a 26-year old artist from the town of Jeddah said, “If you go out with a girl, people will start to ask her questions, but with a man I can be left alone.”
The interesting thing about this unspoken society is the fact many men that preform these homosexual acts would not consider themselves gay. This is because most Saudi men take the dominant role when preforming these sexual acts. Meaning most men will only have sexual relations if they are “on top”. The sociologist Stephen Murray the author of, Islamic Homosexuality: Culture, History, and Literature, explains,
“Sexuality is distinguished not between ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ but between taking pleasure and submitting to someone (being used for pleasure).”
Most Saudi men believe to be on the bottom is to be shameful, but at the same time many males take on this role when they are of inferior status and are therefore excused of their younger behavior in the transition to adulthood.
In a society like Saudi Arabia that focuses on family and long-standing Muslim traditions like arranged marriage there is little room for same-sex relationships. For instance there are spaces in restaurants and café’s that are dedicated to only families. Certain establishments will even show signs that will read, “Families Only.” Simple acts of public discrimination are intended to encourage the ideals of starting a family. The community expects men to marry and fulfill their procreative obligations with their wives or else they will be seen as disgraceful. Some Saudi men may admit to participating in homosexual deviations, but hardly any would consider not marrying to pursue a relationship with another man.
It seems to me that the laws, which the Saudi Arabian religious police enforce like the strict separation between men and women, have powerful influences on the society’s philosophy. The lack of interaction between male and female has cause desires between same-sex affairs. My question is if it were possible to have interactions between the opposite sex would these homosexual acts still continue behind closed doors or at all?