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Westerwelle Presses Saudis on Gay Rights

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Germany's gay foreign minister pressed his Saudi Arabian counterpart over human rights issues in the Middle Eastern country.

"We had an extensive discussion about the issue of human rights, right through to the discussion of religious plurality," Guido Westerwelle told the press.

He met with Prince Saud al-Faisal on Saturday and reiterated the European Union's opposition to the death penalty, which is used to punish Saudis who are found to be gay. Human rights activists had urged Westerwelle to bring up gay rights on his visit. Westerwelle addressed the use of the death penalty and possibly the creation of a Saudi Human Rights Commission, according to the German newspaper The Local.

"I would like to stress that we talked about human rights and that includes different criteria between countries," Al-Faisal said. "We reached the conclusion that these matters cannot be imposed by either side summarily and a change cannot come unless is it by conviction."

A married man found to be in a relationship with another man can be punished with death, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association. Unmarried men are penalized with 100 blows of the whip, as well as banishment for a year. For a non-Muslim man who engages in sex with a Muslim male, the penalty is death by stoning.

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