Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia jails Yemeni blogger over video calling for LGBT rights

A Saudi court sentenced Mohamad al-Bokari to 10 months in prison over a social media post encouraging gay rights.
Bokari amnesty.png

Saudi Arabia has imprisoned a Yemeni blogger over a social media video that called for LGBT rights, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

Mohamad al-Bokari, 29, was arrested in April after he uploaded a video that included him talking about same-sex relationships, the New York-based rights group said. In the video, which Saudi authorities claimed violated “public order and morals,” Bokari said, “Everyone has rights and should be able to practice them freely, including gay people.” 

He was charged with “violating public morality” and “imitating women.” Last week, a Saudi court sentenced the activist to deportation after 10 months in prison and a fine of 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,700). Bokari has 30 days to appeal.  

A source in contact with Bokari said he has no access to a lawyer at the al-Malaz prison in the capital, Riyadh. According to Human Rights Watch’s source, Bokari, who suffers from a heart condition, has been subjected to physical and psychological duress while in pretrial detention. 

During his arrest, police reportedly kicked and slapped him in an effort to force him to “confess that he is gay.” 

“Saudi Arabia’s relentless policing of free expression reveals the hypocrisy of a government that has promised to carry out reforms,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Saudi authorities should do the right thing and immediately release the young man, who was only expressing his opinion.”

Saudi Arabia remains a dangerous place for LGBT individuals. Although the conservative Muslim country has no explicit laws covering sexual orientation or gender identity, judges turn to Islamic law to prescribe punishments for homosexual sex and other “immoral” acts. 

After receiving death threats from armed groups, Bokari fled to Saudi Arabia from Yemen, which is embroiled in a civil war between a Saudi-led military coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels. Bokari has since been living in Riyadh as an undocumented migrant, and Human Rights Watch warned his deportation to Yemen would again put his life at risk.  

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial