Saudi Arabia Bans Gays, Tomboys from Schools

Saudi Arabia Bans Gays, Tomboys from Schools

Saudi Arabia’s conservative religious faction is instructing schools and universities not to admit tomboys and gays, unless their behavior is addressed and supposedly corrected. The report does not name the newspaper cited as a source, nor are there any names attached to the new order, reports Emirates 24/7.

Saudi Arabia has decided to bar gays and tom boys from its government schools and universities within a crackdown against the spread of this phenomenon in the conservative Moslem Gulf Kingdom, a newspaper said on Monday.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the most feared law enforcement authority in the oil-rich country, has been asked to enforce the new orders, Sharq Arabic language daily said.

If accurate, it seems somewhat at odds with official statements Emirates 24/7 reported just two weeks ago. That report suggested moderates were opening up one aspect of Saudi culture–sports–to women. Saudi Arabia is also said to be sending women to compete in the London Olympic games for the first time in its history. The new edict may be in response to that, indicating a struggle within the country between more moderate aspects of leadership and the conservative clerics. It’s possible that both reports are true.

Saudi Arabia is considering letting girls play sport at school, a senior education official was quoted as saying on Monday, in what would represent a relaxation of rules governing women’s lives in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

Under Saudi Arabia’s strict Islamic legal system, powerful clerics have issued religious rulings against female participation in sport as one of a series of restrictions. Women must have the permission of a male “guardian” to travel abroad, work and have some elective surgery. They are also barred from driving.

After King Abdullah moved last year to bring women into the country’s political process, however, there have been some signs authorities may allow sportswomen to compete internationally and make it easier for girls to exercise.

Noura al-Fayez, the deputy education minister for female student affairs, was quoted in a letter addressed to activist group Human Rights Watch as saying that the government was working to change things.

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