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If they catch a boy and a girl on a date, they might haul the couple to the police station.
They make sure that single men steer clear of the malls, which are family-only zones for the most part, unless they are with a female relative.
The list of prohibitions is long: It’s haram—forbidden—to smoke, drink, go to discos, or mix with an unrelated person of the opposite gender.
As long as gays and lesbians maintain a public front of obeisance to Wahhabist norms, they are left to do what they want in private.
Vibrant communities of men who enjoy sex with other men can be found in cosmopolitan cities like Jeddah and Riyadh.
Though the power of the mutawwa'in has been curtailed recently, their presence still inspires fear. Though that penalty is seldom applied, just this February a man in the Mecca region was executed for having sex with a boy, among other crimes.
(For this reason, the names of most people in this story have been changed.) Ask many Saudis about homosexuality, and they’ll wince with repugnance.