Fifty people picketed the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London on Friday in protest at the flogging and execution of gay people.

Earlier this month, two young men in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Bahah were convicted of ‘sodomy’ and sentenced to 7,000 lashes. In Saudi Arabia same-sex relations are illegal and the maximum penalty is death.

“7,000 lashes is a form of torture, calculated to cause maximum, prolonged suffering,” said protester Peter Tatchell of the gay human rights group OutRage! “So many lashes can be fatal, depending on how many are delivered at any one time,” he said.

The London protest was organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) LGBT campaign, with the support of OutRage! The action came just over a week ahead of a state visit to the UK of the Saudi ruler, King Abdullah bin Abdul Azaz al Saud.

“As well as flogging and executing gay people, the Saudi leaders are guilty of detention without trial, torture and the public beheading of women who have sex outside of marriage,” said Tatchell.

He and the protesters called on the British government to halt its support of the regime and cancel the state visit, accusing the Saudis of being despotic and corrupt.

“The media is heavily censored. Trade unions, political parties and non-Muslim religions are banned. The country is a theocratic police state. The Saudi leaders should be shunned until they stop their homophobic persecution and their many other human rights abuses,” said fellow OutRage! protester, Brett Lock.

The group handed a letter of protest to the Saudi Ambassador, HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, calling on his government to respect the human rights of its LGBT citizens.

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