Gay Saudi Arabian social media star says he’s facing prison for sharing a picture of himself in short shorts

Suhail al-Jameel in leopard print shorts

Suhail al-Jameel, a gay social media personality, was reportedly arrested after wearing short shorts to the beach.

The 23-year-old, who has more than 170,000 Twitter followers, claims he was arrested and sent to jail “for wearing shorts” on a beach in Riyadh.

“In 2019 LGBTQ are not welcome in Saudi Arabia, you must live in secret and can’t live in peace. You want tourism but you won’t give us freedoms,” he wrote on Twitter.

Al-Jameel shared a photo of the outfit in question on October 6. A week later, on Sunday October 13, he said that police had charged him with sharing nudity online.

“The police [have changed] my charges to electronic crimes, taking photos of nudity,” he wrote.

“How am I nude if I am wearing shorts on a hot beach?”

While the length of al-Jameel’s possible sentence is unknown, he retweeted a post which reads: “3 years in jail for tweeting this! This is ridiculous.”

Outraged followers have pointed out the double standard of al-Jameel reportedly being arrested in the same week that a (now-deleted) video of two swimsuit-clad women visiting Saudi Arabia was shared online.

Saudi Arabia introduced new rules on public decency and dress in September, as the Islamic state opened its doors to general tourists for the first time.

According to the UK Foreign Office, men and women are required by law to “dress modestly covering shoulders and knees in public, avoiding tight-fitting clothing or clothes with profane language or images.”

According to Human Rights Watch, “Saudi Arabia has no written laws concerning sexual orientation or gender identity,” however judges use principles of “uncodified Islamic law” to sanction people suspected of having same-sex relations. 

It is also illegal to be transgender in Saudi Arabia.

There is no suggestion that al-Jameel was arrested on account of his sexuality.