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Saudi authorities seize rainbow-themed toys for 'promoting homosexuality'

Items targeted in the raids include rainbow-coloured bows, skirts, hats and pencil cases, most of them for children
A Saudi TV report shows commerce ministry officials removing rainbow-coloured items from shops in Riyadh (Screengrab)

Saudi officials have seized rainbow-coloured toys and clothing from shops in the capital as part of a crackdown on homosexuality, state media reported.

A report by the state-run Al-Ekhbariya news channel showed commerce ministry officials removing a range of items from shops in the capital Riyadh.

"We are giving a tour of the items that contradict the Islamic faith and public morals and promote homosexual colours targeting the younger generation," an official from the commerce ministry said. 

According to the report, the colours send a "poisoned message" to children. It is unclear how many items were seized in the operation by the commerce ministry. 

Items targeted in the recent raids included rainbow-coloured bows, skirts, hats and pencil cases, most of them apparently manufactured for young children.

The rainbow raids come as Saudi Arabia has banned films that depict, or even refer to, sexual minorities. In April, the kingdom reportedly banned the sequel to the Doctor Strange film over the inclusion of an LGBT+ character, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In 2020, a Saudi court sentenced a Yemeni national to prison and deportation over an online video supporting LGBT rights. Yemeni blogger Mohamed al-Bokari was sentenced on 20 July to 10 months in prison and a fine of 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,700) on charges of “violating public morality by promoting homosexuality online” and “imitating women”.

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In 2016, a Saudi doctor was arrested by authorities for flying a rainbow pride flag above his home, unaware that it symbolised LGBTQ rights.

According to CNN Arabic, the doctor had bought the flag online because his children found the colours "pretty".

The crackdown also comes just a day after authorities in Syria confiscated hundreds of children's kites because they "promote homosexuality", prompting criticism from Syrians, according to a report published by the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

The government announced that it had "confiscated rainbow-coloured kites in the city of Hama", adding that the "kites promote homosexuality and contain colours that refer to homosexuality".

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