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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Human-rights groups criticize PGA/LIV merger

This article shared 2676 times since Wed Jun 7, 2023
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On June 6, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan sat with Yasir Al-Rumayyan—the governor of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is financing LIV Golf—on CNBC to announce that their golf circuits would unite to form a larger enterprise, ESPN reported.

PIF, with more than $600 billion in assets, will be the leading investor in the yet-to-be-named new entity.

"I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite," Monahan told reporters. "Anytime I said anything, I said it with the information that I had at that moment, and I said it based on someone that's trying to compete for the PGA Tour and our players. I accept those criticisms, but circumstances do change."

Human-rights groups criticized the merger, with many citing Saudi Arabia's abysmal human-rights record. Just recently, travel consultants Asher & Lyric released "The 203 Best (& Worst) Countries for Trans Rights in 2023," Windy City Times noted. Saudi Arabia ranked 201st out of the 203 countries, receiving a grade of "F."

In addition to Saudi Arabia's anti-LGBTQ+ record, the country's recent history has drawn the ire of several people. Family members of those who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have protested the league, including outside events, CNBC noted. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were from Saudi Arabia, and attack mastermind Osama Bin Laden was born in the country. Former President Donald Trump—who has hosted LIV Golf events at his golf courses—has defended those events, falsely claiming that "nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11."

MSNBC writer Dave Zirin, in an op-ed, stated that the announcement is the latest win in Saudi Arabia's game of "sportswashing"—using sports as a shiny gem to legitimize authoritarian regimes and distract from the regime's human-rights abuses. Zirin added, "It isn't surprising the country would find a willing participant in the PGA Tour—a right-wing, good ol' boy organization steeped in racism and classism."

Zirin also cited an incident involving pro golfer Phil Mickelson: "Referring to Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who wasn't just killed but was beheaded and dismembered with a bone saw, Mickelson said: 'We know they killed [Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.'

"Mickelson later apologized. Not to the Khashoggi family and not to LGBTQ people. He apologized to the [Saudi] royal family."

Human Rights Watch has also accused LIV of sportswashing, adding, "While the kingdom hosts these glamorous events, the Saudi government has intensified the crackdown on peaceful dissent and ramped up executions. Many Saudi activists and dissidents remain on trial or in prison receiving long sentences and some tortured."

According to Human Dignity Trust, "Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under Sharia law, under which all sex outside of marriage, [including] same-sex sexual activity, is criminalized. The maximum penalty under the law is the death penalty." In 2020, a Yemeni blogger living in Saudi Arabia was arrested for pro-LGBTQ+ activism. He was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment and a fine, followed by deportation, under "public indecency" laws. While detained, he was subjected to solitary confinement, beatings and torture.

What prompted the PGA/LIV merger is a mystery, however, according to ESPN. Last October, after Mickelson suggested that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf needed to come together, Monahan told ESPN at the Presidents Cup in Charlotte, North Carolina, that it would never happen. Also, players weren't happy about being kept in the dark. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and members of the Player Advisory Council didn't even know what was happening behind the scenes.

The PGA's BMW Championship is slated to take place Aug. 17-20 in the Chicago suburb of Olympia Fields, per the PGA website. The purse is $20 million.

—Andrew Davis

This article shared 2676 times since Wed Jun 7, 2023
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