Saudi Doctor Arrested Over Rainbow Flag, Claims His Daughter Liked The ‘Pretty Colors’

In what appears to be one of the more unusual excuses for hanging a rainbow flag – now universally accepted as a symbol for the LGBTQ community – in an extremely devout Islamic nation, a Saudi doctor was arrested then later released after he confessed that his daughter found the colors “pretty” and agreed to hang the flag outside his home.

After being detained by the Saudi Religious Police – officially known as the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice – the doctor confessed he had no idea of the color’s symbolism and agreed to remove the flag.

Saudi Arabia has some of the harshest laws on the planet regarding homosexuality. Crimes against nature can and have resulted in chemical castration, public flogging, stoning, imprisonment and death.

According to the United Nations panel on Human Rights, some 76 Saudis have been put to death alone in 2016.

But other instances of antipathy run rampant throughout Saudi history. In 2011, Mirel Radoi, a Romanian football player who plays for the Saudi Alhilal Club, was fined 20,000 Saudi Riyals and suspended for two matches after calling a Saudi Arabian football player, Hussein Abdul Ghani, who plays for Nasr Club, gay. The public comment, intended as an insult, was highly controversial and generated quite a bit of coverage in the Saudi press, including the refusal of Hussein Abdul Ghani to shake hands with Mirel Radoi after a later game. In 2013, the Gulf Cooperative Countries, which Saudi Arabia is a member, announced plans to ban LGBT foreigners from entering Gulf countries. The ban would reportedly be enforced through some type of test.

The Saudi government does not allow for a visible LGBT community to exist, and prohibits any advocacy on behalf of LGBT rights as contradictory to Sharia law. The criminal penalties against homosexuality and cross-dressing are regularly and strictly enforced against Saudi citizens as well as expatriates working in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is still considered an ally of the United States.