In a country where homosexuality is outlawed, Saudi Arabia’s Sharia law which considers same-sex relations a capital offence has promulgated the government to ban toys with rainbow colouring, as officials claim that it would “poison the mind of the youth”. The news comes during the ongoing Pride Month amidst the steadfast efforts of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who aims to “modernise” Saudi Arabia through the implementation of his Vision 2030 plan.
As per reports, the seized items “contradict the Islamic faith and public morals, and promote homosexual colours targeting the younger generation”. Furthermore, officials have stated that shops selling such products would face legal penalties. A video by the state-funded Al Ekhbariya news channel showcased officials removing items such as hair clips, T-shirts and pencil cases from shops in the capital city of Riyadh.
This development follows a series of directives by Saudi officials, who have been extremely stringent and particular with regard to the subject of homosexuality. In April 2022, the kingdom asked Disney to cut “LGBTQ references” from their movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. However, as reported by the Guardian, the entertainment conglomerate refused to budge. Variety magazine has recently reported that Saudi Arabia has banned Pixar’s “Lightyear” over the inculcation of a same-gender kiss scene.
The deep-rooted prejudice against homosexuality in Saudi Arabia has left little room for social progress when it comes to issues related to the LGB TQIA community, which continues to live in persecution in the nation. The country does not recognize, allow or perform same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships or civil unions. From a religious perspective, homosexuals and transgenders are not allowed to make the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. Members of the LGBTQIA community are thus frequently subject to arrests. However, due to the opacity of Saudi law enforcement, it is not possible to provide accurate estimates of the number of arrests, execution and prosecutions. The theocratic nature of the Saudi state has led to a model of governance informed by the principles of Islam. According to a Human Rights Watch World Report, if Individuals engage in homosexual relationships online, prosecutors can utilize vague provisions of the country’s anti-cybercrime law to criminalize online activity and restore “public order, religious values and public morals”.