Oman: News editor who published sympathetic article about gay life to face public prosecution

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Oman’s ministry of information has referred the editor of a local newspaper to public prosecution for questioning over a sympathetic article he published last week on the story of a young gay man in the country.

TheWeek published an article last week with the headline “The Outsiders,” which traced the story of a young man living as a member of the country’s underground gay scene.

Earlier this week, the entire front page of the English language version of the paper was given over to a formal apology regarding the article’s content.

It read: “TheWeek places on record that there was never any intention to knowingly or unknowingly cause harm, offend or hurt the sentiments of the people with our article last week, and we deeply and sincerely regret the article.

“TheWeek issues a public apology to our readers whose opinion we respect.”

In a statement on Thursday, the information ministry said it “does not allow harming the fundamentals, principles, and values of the society or undermining its moral and religious values.”

The ministry said it decided to refer the editor-in-chief and the author of the article to the public prosecution “to launch a lawsuit.”

The maximum penalty for homosexuality in Oman is three years in prison.

Oman is among a list of countries that ban or limit the right of HIV-positive people to their territories, including Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sudan, and Yemen.

Last year, two men spotted “fondling” each other in a parked car near a beach in Jumeirah, Dubai were sentenced yesterday to three months prison terms each to be followed by deportation, reported the National, an Emirates based daily.

The two, a 27-year-old Filipino salon receptionist named by the initials “RS”, and a 32-year-old Omani named by the initials “AA”, were arrested by the police just after 3am on April 9 following a tip off from a member of the public.

In 2008, Conservative MP Alan Duncan proposed to his boyfriend, James Dunseath, on Valentine’s Day during a holiday in Oman.