In a move that sounds like a headline ripped from the political satire site “The Onion,” the government of Saudi Arabia has tried to crack down on the sale of rainbow-colored items.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce is conducting raids on businesses, with the intent of confiscating any objects that are rainbow-colored, including toys, hair clips, pencil cases, hats, and more, reports the BBC.
The government issued statements warning retailers of increased raids and promised to confiscate any contraband. In a broadcast last week, the government asserted that any rainbow-colored items or clothing that incorporates rainbow colors “contradict the Islamic faith and public morals, and promote homosexual colors targeting the younger generation.”
The justification for such raids is that rainbow-colored merchandise is considered a symbol of homosexuality, and an attempt to minimize LGBTQ “influence” on children in the country, despite the fact that merely owning rainbow-colored products is not indicative of a person’s sexual orientation.
A tweet published by the Ministry of Commerce last Tuesday doubled down on the message of the government broadcast, arguing that the rainbow items “contain symbols and signs calling for deviation and contradicting common sense.” If businesses are found selling rainbow items, they could be prosecuted, according to law enforcement officials.
Saudi Arabia has no criminal code, but it does have a legal code. This legal code directly comes from interpretations of the Quaran and is called Sharia law. The Saudi government has some of the harshest laws for LGBTQ people and imposes the death penalty for those who break the law.
Recently Saudi Arabia has banned multiple movies from playing in the country due to their LGBTQ content, including Everything Everywhere All At Once, West Side Story, and Lightyear. Walt Disney Studios refused to remove a reference to a family headed by two moms from the Marvel Movie Dr. Drange Multiverse of Madness, so the country banned the film from playing.
Other neighboring countries, like Qatar, which also abide by Sharia law, have faced similar scrutiny for anti-LGBTQ statements and policies.
Qatar is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, setting off concerns over the treatment of LGBTQ fans who may attend games. This has lead to activists calling on FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, to crack down on hotels in the country that discriminate against LGBTQ couples by terminating their contracts.
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