A Saudi Arabian man has been sentenced to three years in jail and 450 lashes after he was caught using Twitter to arrange dates with other men.
The 24-year-old man who has not been named, was given his sentence after the court in Medina, Saudi Arabia, found him guilty of “promoting the vice and practice of homosexuality.”
According to a report in the daily Arabic newspaper Al-Watan, the man was arrested following an entrapment ploy by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV).
Posing as a potential suitor online, members of the CPVPV arranged to meet the now convicted man for a date.
When the man arrived at the designated meeting place, he was greeted by an undercover agent and a number of other officers from the CPVPV.
He was then arrested and his phone was confiscated.
According to authorities, a search of the phone revealed “indecent images” and other incriminating evidence that apparently proved his “homosexuality”.
During the court case, the 24-year-old man is said to have confessed to using his Twitter account to meet other men, and for possessing “pornographic images of homosexual perversion.”
The 450 lashes will be administered over 15 separate sessions.
It is not the first time that something like this has been reported in Saudi Arabia; in 2012 The Pink News reported a similar incident when a man was arrested for using Facebook as a means to arrange meetings with other gay men.
In Saudi Arabia, like most of the Middle East, homosexuality is a taboo and can result in harsh punishments if someone is found guilty.
By law, any married man found engaging in sodomy or any non-Muslim who commits sodomy with a Muslim can be stoned to death.
Other punishments to be handed out to those found guilty of homosexuality include chemical castrations, imprisonment and execution.
The news of the latest conviction has seen an outcry of disapproval from gay right campaign groups in the Middle East.
The United Arab Emirates groups chair, named only as Abdulla, told LGBTQ nation that the severity of the punishment was “infuriating” and “disheartening”.
He said: “Not only this is the fundamental human right for privacy is breached but the entrapment and sentence also breaches several human rights charters.”
Adding: “If the man survives this ordeal he will find himself an outcast and will be in danger for life after he completes this harsh sentence.”