Locked Up Abroad: Where Are They Now? Stephen Comiskey

If you just tuned in to Stephen Comiskey’s nightmarish story on Locked Up Abroad: Dangerous Liaisons, I’m sure you have questions. We checked in with Stephen to get answers and see what life is like for him today and here’s what he had to say:

How long was your contract in Saudi Arabia supposed to be? And how long did you live there before you ended up leaving the country? I was only meant to go for a year and ended up staying over two years. Before it all happened, I had ended my contract; but had to extend it as I wasn’t allowed to leave the country.

What was a typical day for you like?
A typical working week was 48 hours long. My shift started at 7 a.m., so I woke at 5:30 a.m. to get ready and then we were ferried to the hospital by hospital transport. I worked 12 hrs shifts and finished at 1900 hrs and then was ferried back to the compound. I would usually spend my days off with friends at their compound, which was much better than the one I lived in. If I was off on the weekend (which everyone lived for), I would attend any parties that were on either private compounds or the embassies. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot to do there apart from shopping and eating. No cinemas, no clubs; even going to friends was a task in and of itself. You had to be signed in or know someone in the compound who could sign you in. People tended to go to Dubai or Bahrain as well, as it was more liberal and it meant you got a break from the restrictions in KSA.

Besides your family, what did you miss the most while you lived in Saudi Arabia?
I missed not being able to just go out and see my friends. You got to understand, just going somewhere was a task. You had to organize a reliable cab driver, leave at a certain time be home before curfew. I guess i missed my freedom.

And what was the best part about living there?
The friends I made and the money. Yeah money doesn’t make you happy, but it gives you choices and allows you to do the things you weren’t able to do.

The parties, such as that first one at the Prince’s palace… did these events seem to be regular occurrences? Weren’t people afraid to get caught by the religious police?
There were parties every weekend, and you could have your pick if you knew people and had made good connections. Of course you’re warned about the religious police and you are told to be careful and not to get caught. But after a while you forget where you are. Everyone is having a good time at the parties, you’re getting invites to different parties. You forget about the dangers.

Did you ever find out if Abdullah had given the Mutaween his phone or information about you?
No, I never found out and most likely never will.

How did the reporter in the UK learn of your arrest and contact your wife? Did they ever run the story about you?
Someone—be it friend or foe—contacted the Scottish Sun Newspaper and sold my story to them. The reporter then called all the Stephen Comiskey’s until he eventually found my ex-wife; I hadn’t told her and he had told her I was to be beheaded. The foreign office asked them not to run it while I was still there as it would put my life in more danger. They ran the story three days after I got home. I wasn’t aware of it.

When your friend suggested that you escape to either Egypt or the United Arab Emirates, what went through your mind? Did you ever consider it as an option?
Of course I considered it!! I knew the risks that would be involved, but I just wanted to go home. I could see myself on a ship crossing the Red Sea. Freedom. You think all kind of crazy shit.  I just wanted out of that hell hole.

Looking back, would you have done anything different?
A life lived with regrets is no life at all. I think I would have been more aware of the place I was in. Like I said, it’s very easy to forget where you are. You live in a bubble there; it’s not the real world.

Are there any life lessons you can draw from your experience?
Not to take anything for granted. When someone takes your liberties from you, you realize how much the west takes everything for granted.

What advice would you give someone who is homosexual and considering traveling to Saudi Arabia for work or pleasure?
It’s not just homosexuals, it’s everyone. Remember, men and women who aren’t married are not allowed to be seen together either. It’s forbidden. So any single person who thinks they can handle life without sex, alcohol, or any human contact other than with the Arabs will do just fine. Other than that—if you can’t—you need to be willing to pay the price if you go there and get caught. This is not about being homosexual, this country is about control.

Do you openly share your story with people?
Some people I have done so. Not always.

You left Saudi Arabia just over a year ago… what’s life like for you now?
Life is good. I’m working hard, seeing my kids. Trying to put a book together, which is hard work. Yeah it’s all good. It’s a good feeling walking out your front door knowing you can go where you like and don’t  have to be back at a certain time.


  1. Roger C.
    June 7, 2012, 11:03 am

    Quite obviously, the Abdullah guy he had the one-night stand with got caught, and the religious police went through his contacts and text messages, trying to nail more homosexuals. They had nothing on him, so he had to be let go. If he had confessed, he would have been in trouble. Honestly, if he could have controlled himself, he should have stayed and finished his contract. The money was good, why not?

  2. Locked Up Addict
    June 13, 2012, 5:48 pm

    It’s amazing how naive Stephen was. Why would anyone go work in a foreign country without doing some *basic* research on the country and the culture, especially as a gay man? This guy did none of that and seemed to be shocked at the cultural restrictions. It’s as if he thought he was going to work in San Francisco or something. Two minutes on Google would have told him all he needed to know about working and living in the Middle East. I love Locked Up Abroad but I’m always amazed at the number of “inmates” that have no clue how other countries and cultures work.

  3. Darcy
    June 16, 2012, 12:35 am

    I agree Austin.It amazes me how many people dont research other countries before going there. Stephen was so naive to the Saudi Arabia culture.Athe money in the world would not convince me to give up my freedom like that. And his comment that he just “couldnt” live without sex is sad. Self control til you get home. He’s lucky to be alive.

  4. Tracey
    April 15, 2013, 8:04 am

    I watched this episode during the marathon yesterday .I felt really bad for Stephen because he was doing something so innocent compared to the other people featured on this show. I will never understand why people spend so much time worrying about what others are doing and imposing their rigid standards on everyone. I am glad you made it out of there but I honestly could not have done it. That dirty apartment alone would have had me demanding to go home immediately.

  5. Jr
    New York
    March 16, 2015, 11:51 am

    Last night I tuned into this episode for the 1st time, and after watching it I am UNSYMPATHETIC to Stephen’s ordeal. I am a proud American, but it irks me when I read stories of Westerners traveling to distant countries and thinking that they are “above” the law! This is why anti-American sentiment is so high these days. We expect these foreigners to obey and respect our laws when they come here to America. Why can’t we show the same regards for their laws as well? Stephen is not only naive, but ignorant! Who on God’s green earth doesn’t know that Saudi Arabia has one of the strictest, religious and brutal regimes! And another thing, did anyone notice in the episode that Stephen was married? He has a wife and 2 kids!!! So how can you live a double-life as a gay man in a distant land and have a wife and then cry “victim”? No morals or respect for the sacred vows you take in marriage! I’m really shocked that they didn’t stone him to death. Let this be a lesson to all. I would never accept an job assignment to the Mid-East, no matter how much money they offer. It’s not worth giving up our basic rights & freedoms.

  6. Mike
    March 20, 2015, 11:49 pm

    I don’t care how much you paid me I would never travel to a middle eastern country. No amount of money is worth it. I’m straight by the way but still those countries are too backwards. Plus you got to worry about being beheaded for no reason at all. No thanks. I’ll stay in the good old USA.

  7. Jen mad
    May 24, 2015, 9:09 pm

    I don’t feel sorry for this guy at all..He knew what the laws were and he chose to break them. His wife is who I feel sorry for.

  8. Dude
    August 21, 2015, 7:29 am

    In regards to Jr, he wasn’t living a double life. He came out to his wife and moved out and only then did he begin living his life as a gay man. Did you see where it said EX-wife? That doesn’t mean he’s still not connected to his family just because he’s divorce. Pay attention to the story.

    One thing though, Stephen said about going to Dubai or Bahrain. Now he was afraid to leave the country or couldn’t without his passport, so how did he or his co workers go to Dubai before without the passports? Doesn’t add up. He’s crazy for going to the police where he could have gotten sent back to jail. I would have went to Dubai.. It just doesn’t add up why he’s saying they would go to Dubai but then suddenly going to Dubai or leaving through the Red Sea was untenable… And he was foolish not to do his research about being gay in the middle East before signing up. Was he just that new to being gay that he didn’t know what is blatantly obvious to most people about being gay in the Middle East?

  9. Gillian
    August 31, 2015, 3:56 pm

    Your comments are so varied. Yes Stephen did lead a double life. Being married and having two sons. But it all got too much for him and then came out. Much to the devastation to his wife and families. He then decided to go to KSA and was very foolish. He thought he cld get away with having men friends and sexual relations with them. But what happened to him in the end was horrific especially in this day and age. Since when do foreigners come to our country and ‘obey’ the rules?? I’m sure Stephen has learned a valuable lesson and is happy to be home

  10. San
    December 13, 2016, 12:02 pm

    What happened to his friend I wonder?

  11. Saudi girl
    February 19, 1:08 am

    I’ve just watched his episode and of course not surprised at all but there are few things I want to make some comments about, when he found that the apartment was so dirty and impossible to live in WHY he didn’t change it and he mentioned it as if we live in trashes DEFIANTLY this isn’t the case in All of our country. Another thing is that he unfortunately had chosen the wrong place if He searched about KSA he would knew that there are better cities to work and live without this extreme fear which he experienced, it is commonly known that RIYADH has more strict rules compared to the EAST like DHAHRAN where Alot of Americans work or Jeddah in the West.
    Seriously I wished he didn’t pass through this tough experience despite the big differences between us.