x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Oman's government sues editor over story about homosexuals

The government of Oman is suing the editor of a weekly tabloid, state news agency ONA said yesterday, after suspending it from publication for running a story about homosexuals.

MUSCAT // The government of Oman is suing the editor of a weekly tabloid, state news agency ONA said yesterday, after suspending it from publication for running a story about homosexuals.

Homosexuality is punishable by law in a number of majority Muslim countries, including Oman. But activists say it is generally more tolerant than states like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen where those charged with being gay face the death penalty.

TheWeek's publisher Saleh Zakwani said the Ministry of Information had told him not to publish the September 5 issue, but it was not clear how long the suspension was for.

"No harm was intended by the story," he told Reuters.

The Augugt 29 article, splashed under the front page headline "The outsiders", said gays in Oman were "finding new ways to live life the way they want to".

It included a number of interviews with gay men and women, including Omanis and expatriates. One expatriate argued that it was not difficult to be homosexual in Oman compared to other Gulf states.

The ministry of information said in a statement that it did not tolerate "harming society, its principles, religion, values, the dignity of its people or public manners through publishing what goes against media laws and regulations."

Saleh said he had no details of the lawsuit, which was filed by the ministry against the editor-in-chief, Sameer Zakwani, and the article's author, who had not been named.

The paper this week issued an apology on its website signed by Saleh Zakwani. "TheWeek places on record that there was never any intention to knowingly or unknowingly cause harm, offend or hurt the sentiments of the people," he said, according to Dubai-based Gulf News.