Gay Bahrain News & Reports

| Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 | Comments Off

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1 Bahrain cracks down on gay migrant workers 7/02

2 Gay party halted 1/04

2a Tourist convicted of gay sex acts 3/06

3 Gulf authorities to pay for gender reassignment 11/07

4 Crackdown on gays proposed in Bahrain 2/08

5 Government of Bahrain seeks to punish ‘homosexual children’ 4/08

6 Bahraini MP calls for gay crackdown to begin 7/08

7 Gay Life in Bahrain – an interview 7/08

8 Bahrain MP calls for action against homosexuals 10/08

9 Men’s Barbershop Became a Cruising Gay Scene 1/09

10 Bahrain’s government blocks access to gay sites in internet crackdown 1/09

11 "Cross-dressing" man is latest victim of Bahrain’s morality purge 2/09

12 Belarus gays challenge ban on demonstration against homophobia 2/09

13 Bahrain Islamist societies press for closure of bars, discos 4/09

14 Transsexuals in the Middle East Await the Wave of Change 9/09

15 Cross-dressers arrested in Bahrain 1/10

16 More than 100 gay men arrested in Bahrain 2/11

17 Most "Gay party" participants in Bahrain warned and released 3/11



July 11, 2002 – Manila Times, Manila, Philippines

1
Bahrain cracks down on gay migrant workers

by Joshua Dancel
The government of Bahrain has begun cracking down on homosexual migrant workers, including those who are Filipino.

Administrator Wilhelm Soriano of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said yesterday overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) found to be gay would be deported by Bahrain starting next week.

An Islamic state comprising 33 islands on the western side of the Persian Gulf, Bahrain embraces Islam which bans homosexuality. Its capital and largest city of Bahrain is Manama. Soriano said the Bahraini government has already issued closure notices to about 500 beauty salons, massage parlors, flower and tailoring shops where gays are believed to be employed. "Bahraini police suspected these shops and stores provide haven for illicit homosexual activities and prostitution," he said.

These service shops and stores employ about 2,000 gay Filipinos, he said. Soriano said the Bahrain government would start padlocking these shops and deporting all homosexual OFWs. He said the Philippine embassy has received numerous requests to make plead with the Bahrain government to give the workers at least six months, enough time for them to fi–nish their contracts and prepare for the trip home.

"Others have gone to courts seeking to defer the enforcement of the crackdown," he said. Soriano said embassy officials and welfare officers are preparing an agreement with the host government as soon as official notification is sent to Philippine representatives. The only setback that Soriano sees once Bahrain makes good its threat is that the embassy would be deluged with calls for help from runaway gay laborers.

"I’m expecting 2,000 gay workers to be affected, most likely to be sent home," Soriano said. He did not say how many Filipinos work in Bahrain. There are more than a million Filipinos employed in the Middle East.



10 January 2003 – Gulf Daily News, Manama, Bahrain

2
Gay party halted

Manama – A gay party planned at a Bahrain hotel was halted by authorities after parliament members protested. "As soon as we heard about this, we made immediate contacts with government officials to stop this immoral event from taking place in Bahrain for the second time," Al Menbar National Islamic Society member and MP Mohammed Khalid told our Arabic sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej. Fellow society member and MP Dr Saadi Mohammed Abdulla thanked Interior Ministry and Information Ministry officials for intervening.



March 31, 2006 – PinkNews

2a
Tourist convicted of gay sex acts

by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A Kuwaiti tourist has been convicted and fined for having gay sex with a Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) recruit.
The Lower Criminal Court in Manama handed the unnamed 23 year old man a 100 Bahrain Dollar fine after he was found naked in a car with a 22 year old Bahraini on the seafront in February.

He pleaded guilty to immoral acts in public and told the court it all happened because he was drunk. The policeman who discovered the pair said, "At 3.30am, I was on patrol duty in the Manama area and we saw a Honda car parked near the beach in a way that aroused our suspicion.

"We stopped our patrol car at a distance and got out to check what was going on. When we got closer we saw two naked men trying to put their clothes back on. Later on we found out that one of them is a BDF military man, who admitted that he had sex with the Kuwaiti."

The Kuwaiti has been remanded in custody awaiting a medical examination, while the serviceman has been handed back to the BDF who will hold an inquiry.

Homosexuality is a crime in Bahrain.



27th November 2007 – PinkNews

3
Gulf authorities to pay for gender reassignment

by Gemma Pritchard
The Bahraini government has agreed to pay for a trans person to undergo gender reassignment surgery in Thailand. According to daily English-language newspaper Gulf Daily News, 32-year old Hussain Rabie is due to fly out to Thailand on Thursday to undergo female-to-male surgery on Sunday. Rabie, who is partially blind in his right eye, hopes to return to represent the Bahrain Disabled Sports Federation in the men’s shot put and discus. His trip to Thailand is being fully funded by the Bahrain Health Ministry and he also has a court order to protect him if he is questioned by immigration officers. The Health Ministry will pay more than BD5,000 (£6,400) for his operation, accommodation, plane ticket, food and drink while he is there.

When he returns, his final hurdle will be the Bahraini courts, where he is battling for the right to be recognised as a man and officially change his name to Hussain. "I am so happy that the ministry offered to pay for the operation," Rabie told Gulf Daily News yesterday. "I was very concerned as to how I would manage – I didn’t know where to get that amount from." He said that he wrote to former Health Minister Dr Nada Haffadh asking for support, but could not believe it when the ministry responded.

"I would like to thank the ministry for their help and support." He added: "I am still not officially Hussain, but hopefully after the operation I will get a court order stating that I am a male and then all my identity cards and passport will change and I will officially be a man."

As a result of his decision to have the operation, he has now been suspended from his job as an operator at GPIC, been shunned by peers, separated from his husband and stopped from going to the gym. However, he said although society is slowly starting to accept his situation after he went public, people are still opposed to him having the operation. "People are still not aware of the kind of surgery being carried out," he said. "The community accepts homosexuals, so why are they against me? What they are doing is legally and religiously prohibited, but I have seen so many people who are leading a normal life and working. Everybody around them accepts them. I am medically unfit and I want to correct my problem."

Rabie first approached a lawyer in August 2005 and legal papers calling for him to be legally recognised as a man were filed in June last year. He submitted medical reports from Al Khalidi Medical Centre, Jordan, Ibn Al Nafees Hospital and Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Centre, Bahrain, at two court hearings last year. The High Civil Court also ordered for a medical report to be compiled by a Public Prosecution doctor. That report states that he is suffering from a gender identity problem and has no female reproductive organs. He has had a mastectomy and will travel for Thailand for his final operation.



14th February 2008 – PinkNews

4
Crackdown on gays proposed in Bahrain

by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
MPs in the Gulf state of Bahrain are calling for a range of measures to be taken against gay people in the country, including deporting foreigners suspected of being gay. The country only held its first elections in 2002, and since then politicians have mainly addressed themselves to "moral" issues such as banning female mannequins from shop windows and tackling the widespread problem of "sorcery." The bi-cameral parliament is dominated by Shia and Sunni Islamist parties. The foreign affairs, defence and national security committee has backed proposals to tighten immigration checks to stop foreign gay people entering the country.

"The Interior Ministry has told us that it already bans suspected homosexuals as they try entering the country from Bahrain International Airport," committee secretary Jalal Fairooz told Gulf Daily News. They look manly as they come to the airport, but when they get in they return back to their unaccepted homosexual attitude. Homosexuals are found in huge numbers at hairdressing salons and beauty and massage spas, which the ministry regularly inspects. Those who look homosexual or offer customers personal services are being caught by police and taken to the Public Prosecution."

Mr Fairooz said that homosexuals were a "threat to our society and Islamic values." The committee is also proposing that a study be carried out to ascertain how widespread homosexuality is in the country. Gulf Daily News reports that "the Education Ministry claims there are no homosexuals in schools" in Bahrain. The proposals will now be considered by the Bahrain parliament’s general-secretariat. In 2006 a Kuwaiti tourist was convicted and fined for having gay sex with a Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) recruit.

The Lower Criminal Court in Manama handed the unnamed 23 year old man a 100 Bahraini Dollar fine after he was found naked in a car with a 22 year old Bahraini on the seafront.



April 23, 2008 – PinkNews

5
Government of Bahrain seeks to punish ‘homosexual children’

by Adam Lake
The government of Bahrain is taking action to stamp out homosexuals in the country. In a wide ranging set of proposals MP’s have set out a number of initiative designed to rid the country of homosexuals. Parliament also demanded that the Interior Ministry stop granting any residence permits to foreign homosexuals.
MP’s have called for a study into how widespread homosexuality is in Bahrain.

Bahrain is known as one of the more tolerant Muslim nations in the Middle East, and has recently undergone a period of political liberalization. However, homosexuality remains a crime, and the government has periodically deported expatriates living in the nation for their sexual orientation. The country only held its first elections in 2002, and since then politicians have mainly addressed themselves to "moral" issues such as banning female mannequins from shop windows and tackling the widespread problem of "sorcery."

The bi-cameral parliament is dominated by Shia and Sunni Islamist parties. MP Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed said that people were complaining about homosexuals entering the country. The ministers have called for homosexuals to be ‘rooted out’ of hair salons and massage parlours: "Those people are either from the Philippines or Thailand and they come for these two jobs, which they use as a curtain for their homosexual behaviour and immorality."

Shockingly, the proposal will instruct teachers to look out for homosexual tendencies in children and to ‘punish them accordingly.’ Homosexuality has been considered illegal in Bahrain since 1956 when, as part of the British Empire, it was given the Indian Penal Code. Homosexuals can be given up to 10 years in prison though this is rarely put into practice. In 2002 the government allegedly deported 2,000 gay Filipino workers for homosexual activity and prostitution



July 28, 2008 – PinkNews

6
Bahraini MP calls for gay crackdown to begin

by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A set of proposals approved by Bahrain’s parliament targeting homosexual activity in the country should be implemented, according to a politician in the Gulf state. Brotherhood MP Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed wants the government to begin a number of initiatives designed to rid the country of gay people. In April parliament demanded that the Interior Ministry stop granting any residence permits to foreign homosexuals.

Bahrain is known as one of the more tolerant Muslim nations in the Middle East, and has recently undergone a period of political liberalisation. However, homosexuality remains a crime, and the government has periodically deported expatriates living in the nation because of their sexual orientation. The country only held its first elections in 2002, and since then politicians have mainly addressed themselves to "moral" issues such as banning female mannequins from shop windows and tackling the widespread problem of "sorcery."

The bicameral parliament is dominated by Shia and Sunni Islamist parties. The ministers have called for homosexuals to be ‘rooted out’ of hair salons and massage parlours: The proposals will see teachers on the look out for homosexual tendencies in children and ‘punishing them accordingly.’ Homosexuality has been considered illegal in Bahrain since 1956 when, as part of the British Empire, it was given the Indian Penal Code. Homosexuals can be given up to 10 years in prison though this is rarely put into practice.

In 2002 the government deported 2,000 allegedly gay Filipino workers for homosexual activity and prostitution.



July 2008 – From GlobalGayz.com

7
Gay Life in Bahrain – an interview

GlobalGayz Interview with a gay businessman John (name changed)) from UK living in Bahrain

GlobalGayz:
Tell me your impressions of gay Bahrain so far.

John:
Bahrain is quite interesting as it is probably the most liberal of the Arab states. It’s close to Saudi Arabia (where gays and others have what we would perceive to be a really hard time because of their strict adherance to Islam); we are actually joined by a causeway. As a result of this strictness, we get a flood of Saudi’s coming over at the weekend to escape this lifestyle they have there. They come for the weekend—arrive Wednesday night for the Saudi Thursday/Friday weekend. (UAE and BAH now use Friday/Saturday weekend, for business reasons). The roads get full of cars from Saudi (easily spotted with their plates in Arabic only) with drivers who are often somewhat under the weather and to be steered clear of. (Even sober they are notoriously bad drivers!) The local prostitutes – mainly Thai or Philippine girls – do a roaring trade. Many Saudis have week-end homes here.

As far as the gay scene is concerned here, we have a bar in Manama in the Gulf Gate Hotel which is gay friendly and on a Thursday night (kind of like Friday night in the west) a regular crowd goes there. There is the usual Philipino resident band that you hear in so many bars in this region playing a selection of rock and pop songs. You can see many of the guys dancing together (this is not that unusual in any bar where you have a band playing) and there is also the occasional karaoke type performance with the band. If you want to get up and sing, they will generally encourage it.

It is also an absolute fact that gay middle-aged European guys are often very popular in the place with many younger Arab and Indian guys. I always find this very hard to believe but it is a real ego trip being for me, a 48 year old, somewhat overweight white guy strolling into this place and being hit on by a number of highly desirable (well, in some cases) young guys. It’s a bit of a standing joke here with my one Indian friend, who is early 30’s and keeps himself in great shape that yours truly is so popular there (along with similar guys) whilst he gets very little action from the place!

Let’s face it, we Europeans are a small community—scarcity increases value, eh?! Just as you get an influx of Saudi straight guys you also get likewise with the gays, many wearing their dish dashes, some in western dress. There are some local Arabs who are in it looking for cash, but there are many locals and Saudi’s who are just looking to get laid. (as well as being the most liberal of the GCC states, Bahrain is also one of the least wealthy.

Generally speaking, Bahraini guys who are in relationships will still live at home and stay over at their lover’s places only occasionally, although they may visit much more regularly. The apparent popularity of European guys is is not to say that some Arab guys are not into each other or guys of similar age. I just happen to know of a good number of guys in their 20’s or early 30’s who favour more mature guys.

One friend of mine, little bodybuilder type, with whom I had a couple of dates, before choosing my partner, said to me he hangs around with his gay mates, generally Arab for company and seeks out the likes of me for sex or relationship. He would not dream of having an encounter with a black or Indian or Asian guy. Maybe an older Arab. This is fairly typical, but there are obviously exceptions.

GG:
That’s very insightful, especially for folks who’ve never been to UAE/Bahrain and might think the Arabs are sexless. How does a gay person live elsewise, during the day? If he/she has a b/f? Totally closeted? Is he/she expected to get married? What happens if one is outed? And lesbians? Do the authorities leave the bar at Gulf Gate Hotel alone? Busts or harassment? Bribes to police? Other gathering places?

John:
The Arabs sexless?? Anything but. There are some really horny Arabs out there – for sure. LOL!. It reminds me of a date I had with an Arab guy in Abu Dhabi. Meeting for the frist time, we were on our mobiles looking out for one another in a shopping mall, when we eventually made visual contact. This guy was about 28. He was dressed in his dish dash and by the time he walked over to me had a very visible erection (dish dashes are like kilts – nothing worn underneath ) – it was like playing tents! It makes me chuckle everytime I think about it! I saw one guy who was passing by give him a very odd look.

Anyway, It was nice to feel wanted! The local gay guys whom I know – that is, the Bahraini’s – all tend to live at home and are extremely closeted. As I said, they will only stay out occasionally, even if they are in a relationship. I think some of the "foreign" (not GCC) Arabs, (I have met guys from Algeria, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia and Lebanon), are here to get away from the constraints of living a lie. There is a HUGE amount of pressure from the family to get married. I had an affair with a local guy, and he was under constant pressure and hid behind his having an inherited illness as an excuse to his family. Others just avoid the issue of marriage with their families as much as they can.

My little bodybuilder pal that I was referring to earlier on wears earrings, one diamond stud in each ear – very stylish actually – and when I saw him recently he was all a bit tense because he had gone home and forgotten to take them out and had been noticed by his Mother or who saw his ‘decadant’ western dress.

I would have said that the average Muslim guy here has a good deal more respect for (fear of?) his parents than the average American or Brit. Having said that, the guys are extremely closeted at home, when they are out many are quite brazen, I guess would be the way to describe it–openly kissing in public and feeling bums, etc, when they are together at the bar. They’ll be a bit more toned down in other places.

I am not much into the gay scene here but I have not heard of any trouble at Gulf Gate. There are stories from UAE of busts from time to time. The main gay bar in Dubai was a place called Jules Bar which I tried to go to only once; that was with an African friend Barry. They would not let him in because he had a sleeveless T-shirt on. I glanced inside to see the crowd and Barry was a damn sight smarter that most of the people inside, many of whom were wearing scruffy T-shirts. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

My current partner is Don is an Indian Christian. The main reason he is here is to escape the pressure to get the right girl, being pressured by his mother. He is quite often taken for being Arab but sometimes still feels a bit vulnerable when walking into certain bars. He was 23 when I met him over a year and a half ago, so is still a bit young I guess. A good number of the Arab guys I have met have been married and they screw around with gay abandon and as regularly as they can from what I can tell.

GG:
Are you a white Anglo? Where are you from? And why are you in Bahrain?
More questions:
1 Do I suppose correctly there are gay couples who live together in Bahrain if they are quite rich-powerful and can insulate themselves from the ‘common folk’ and/if their parents are deceased and/if they are strong-confident enough to stand up against gossip or family pressure?
2 As for lesbians. can you inquire please? They have to be there and I’m curious how they arrange their secret love lives.
3 Have there been any busts or arrests of LGBT folks there?
4 Any trans folks around? That’s a weird issue since women are covered head to toe no one could tell if it was a woman or trans under the burka/veil !!
5 I presume there is no informal/furtive gay ‘organization’ in Bahrain? And the idea of being an activist is remote? Are there any bold leaders who have tried to organize there even though it’s illegal?
6 Also I read "the government deported 2,000 gay Filipino workers for alleged homosexual activity and prostitution." Is there any gay social/romantic mixing of the different cultures or are the Asian foreigners looked down on? They have their own venues?
7 And I read the Gulf Daily News has printed articles that touch upon gay subjects. Have you seen these?

John:
I am from UK originally, white, late 40’s, 2 kids, divorced. I am in construction. All the couples I know are non-Bahraini. As I said, the Bahraini’s that I know all still live at home, and put up with the pressure of their parents trying to find them a nice girl. I will make some enquiries about the lesbians, but like I said, Don and I keep pretty much to ourselves. I have never met anyone at all here who I would consider to be a real activist type. As expats who rely on the hospitality of their adopted country I think that very few people would be prepared to jeopardize their livelihood for gay rights.

GG:
Most of our friends are long-term couples. I guess it depends on which circle of friends one hangs out with… like tends to attract like. Living in the Middle East is, romantically, a starvation diet so I can appreciate your comment. Perhaps try living back in London and you will see a different picture. Even there long term couples tend to be ‘older’ (in 40’s-60’s) quieter and less visible and less publicized since the media are so youth oriented… but we are everywhere. But surely there is a scattering of sincere committed LGB couples there as well. I’d love to interview some of them.

John:
I guess the profile of the community here is fundamentally different. That is, many of the expats are transient. Many are in the diplomatic corps or working for multi nationals or just here for a few years to get some kind of financial base by working in the Middle East before returning from whence they came. I knew a couple here who left for Canada, one guy was European the other a very fair skinned East African, age 48 and 40 respectively. They left for Canada together a few months ago but have been together for 5 years. But, here’s the rub, I can’t report on any Bahraini couples. I must make enquiries. They have to be out there (no pun intended) somewhere. I do know a couple in the Emirates, who have been together for a while. The one guy is Emarati and mid 30’s and his partner Syrian and pushing 60. The youinger guy was married and his wife died leaving him 3 young boys. They spend evenings together before he has to return home to be there when the kids wake up. It must be tough.

Don and I met online on the ubiquitous Gaydar, so it does work sometimes. In most other Arab states it is blocked, so it is remarkable how many profiles for, say UAE there are! Being in Bahrain we have little or no internet restrictions so I can log onto www.bigdicks.com if I want to whereas in most other Arab countries this would be far more difficult.
(There are ways around the restrictions: my mate in Abu Dhabi happily surfed the net there, but he did this through some proxy or other).

GG:
Do you and Don go to gay-friendly venues on occasion–and is there discrimination against him as an Asian?

John:
I told you about the Gulf Gate which is the main gay friendly venue. I was out last night at the British Club, with Don and an Indian friend, an architect/interior designer aged about 35. Don and I go there regularly. We went last night for a meal with our friend who does not go there much at all. His comment was if the boys from Gulf Gate came here they’d love it, referring to all the middle aged Brits who inhabit the place. I would have to say there is occasionally some prejudice against Indians and or African here.

GG:
If you were to date or take an Arab for a lover I wonder what his friends would say? Would they be hostile, catty, welcoming, subversive? Given the high desirability of middle age westerners, on the surface, would the Arab really welcome him into his life as a partner or just as a social bauble to play with or to impress his peers? My experience is that we westerners are mostly viewed as money machines and/or exotic toys.

John:
When I first arrived in Abu Dhabi I met a guy called Ahmed. (who still keeps in touch via sms.) He invited me over to his house at Ramadan for "Majilis" and I was introduced as a friend. His wife and the other women were nowhere to be seen as the guys sat in their lounge on floor cushions and ate and drank. No alcohol, of course. All the people at the majilis made me feel absolutely welcome.This is the only occasion I can recall where I have been introduced to family like that. My ex-bf here used to invite me over to his place, especially when I had a pal of mine staying over at my place, but he always went ahead to make sure his mother was not around; she was not to be seen and would take herself into her bed room or whatever as I went through into my friends room.
You get some guys who see you as a money Machine. Ahmed who I referred to before used to wine and dine me, which having just arrived from Africa was a change, and, as I was to find out over the next months, not at all unusual.

GG:
I presume most Arabs are not circumcised, and are they known generally to be much ‘endowed’? And I wonder if they are as ‘free and versatile’ as we are in bed? Are they at ease with their homosexual play? Or stuck in the dominant power top position? Are you and Don versatile? How does Don’s culture influence his sexuality/activity?

John: On the contrary, all the Arab guys I have met are Muslim and circumcised. I do know one Christian Arab guy from Syria who is not. All the Arabs I have met come in the usual array of shapes and sizes but I would not have said I have not met any as blessed as some of our black brothers, but there have been some big boys. There are a lot of these guys who are totally selfish in bed. I have generally been bottom for that type (I am versatile). Some just get their nut off and them just leave you high and dry. LOL! I met one guy called Majdi who was so nice but the worst in bed. That is not to say that there are not some guys there that are really hot! Don is the main top in our relationship and I think almost totally uninhibited. Being Christian he’s uncircumcised too. He claimed never to have bottomed for anyone before me, but seems to enjoy it now.

GG: Well this has been an insightful and honest exchange with you and I very much appreciate your candor. I hope this brings some light into the ‘secrets’ of Bahraini gay sexuality—if not at least the sexuality of expats within Bahrain culture. Now please find me a lesbian to interview, but I won’t hold my breath.



October 22, 2008 – PinkNews

8
Bahrain MP calls for action against homosexuals

by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The new session of Parliament in the Gulf state of Bahrain began this week with calls for a crackdown on gays. Al Menbar MP Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed wants the government to begin a number of initiatives designed to rid the country of gay people. "We have homosexual rates on the rise, with such people working in flower shops, massage parlours or barber’s salons," he said.
"Sluts walk around residential neighbourhoods untouched."

In April Parliament demanded that the Interior Ministry stop granting any residence permits to foreign homosexuals. Bahrain is known as one of the more tolerant Muslim nations in the Middle East, and has recently undergone a period of political liberalisation. However, homosexuality remains a crime, and the government has periodically deported expatriates because of their sexual orientation. Bahrain only held its first elections in 2002, and since then politicians have mainly addressed themselves to "moral" issues such as banning female mannequins from shop windows and tackling the widespread problem of "sorcery."

The bicameral parliament is dominated by Shia and Sunni Islamist parties. Homosexuality has been considered illegal in Bahrain since 1956 when, as part of the British Empire, it was given the Indian Penal Code. Homosexuals can be given up to 10 years in prison though this is rarely put into practice. In 2002 the government deported 2,000 allegedly gay Filipino workers for homosexual activity and prostitution.



January 14, 2009 – Bahraini Newspaper, *Alwaqht,*

9
Men’s Barbershop Became a Cruising Gay Scene

2 Asian men were sentenced to 6 months in jail with hard labour and deportation from Bahrain at the end of their sentence for practicing of debauchery. The accused were arrested by the Public Morality Police for committing prostitution with their barbershop clients. After the police was tipped off to their activities, undercover agents went to their place of business, pretending that they wanted to have sex with them. The accused agreed to have homosexual sex for 10 dollars. After their arrests, they confessed that they used to have sex with their clients for 10 to 20 dinars a trick.

You can read –in Arabic–the full story here



January 26, 2009 – PinkNews

10
Bahrain’s government blocks access to gay sites in internet crackdown

by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Gay sites such as gaydar.com can no longer be accessed from Bahrain as part of a government clampdown on internet pornography.
"I think a lot of expats will end up leaving now – they live here mainly because Bahrain is more liberal," one local gay man told Gulf Daily News.

Others said that gays would be forced to meet in public and may be put in danger. There has been some concern among the Bahraini authorities about homosexuality. A session of Parliament in the Gulf state began last October with calls for a crackdown on gays.

Al Menbar MP Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed said: "We have homosexual rates on the rise, with such people working in flower shops, massage parlours or barber’s salons. Sluts walk around residential neighbourhoods untouched."

In April Parliament demanded that the Interior Ministry stop granting any residence permits to foreign homosexuals. Bahrain is known as one of the more tolerant Muslim nations in the Middle East, and has recently undergone a period of political liberalisation. However, homosexuality remains a crime, and the government has periodically deported expatriates because of their sexual orientation. Bahrain only held its first elections in 2002, and since then politicians have mainly addressed themselves to "moral" issues such as banning female mannequins from shop windows and tackling the widespread problem of "sorcery."



February 13, 2009 – PinkNews

11
"Cross-dressing" man is latest victim of Bahrain’s morality purge

by Tony Grew
A driving instructor has been jailed for one month in Bahrain for wearing women’s clothing in public. A court was told the 39-year-old was wearing a abaya, a long black robe that covers the whole body, and scarf. He was reportedly also carrying a purse as he walked through Al Haddad Market. He was arrested after police stopped him. A press report alleges he was engaged in prostitution, which the man denied.

Gulf Daily News reports that the man told police after his arrest: "I don’t have a particular reason for dressing like a woman and walking on the streets, but after I dropped my wife at her father’s house, I purchased the clothes and wore them."

Bahrain is known as one of the more tolerant Muslim nations in the Middle East, and has recently undergone a period of political liberalisation. However, homosexuality remains a crime, and the government has periodically deported expatriates because of their sexual orientation. As part of a recent panic about homosexuality, gay sites such as gaydar.com were blocked by the government. A session of Parliament in the Gulf state began last October with calls for a crackdown on gays.

Al Menbar MP Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed said: "We have homosexual rates on the rise, with such people working in flower shops, massage parlours or barber’s salons. Sluts walk around residential neighbourhoods untouched."

In April Parliament demanded that the Interior Ministry stop granting any residence permits to foreign homosexuals. Bahrain only held its first elections in 2002, and since then politicians have mainly addressed themselves to "moral" issues such as banning female mannequins from shop windows and tackling the widespread problem of "sorcery." In 2002 the government deported 2,000 gay Filipino workers for homosexual activity and prostitution.



February 23, 2009 – PinkNews

12
Belarus gays challenge ban on demonstration against homophobia

by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
An event designed to raise public awareness about homophobia and discrimination against LGBT people in Belarus has been banned by government officials. The Right To Love, which organisers characterised as a peaceful gathering, was planned for February 12th. Gomel City Administration refused permission for the event.
For the first time in Belarus LGBT rights activists have appealed to the courts to defend their constitutional right to freedom of assembly.

On February, 17th Belarusian activist Roman Mandrykin filed a complaint in the Court of the Central Borough of Gomel. The event was to take place in the city’s Central Square and was to include the distribution of educational materials on the subjects of homophobia and discrimination. As part of the application, the organisers agreed to be responsible for public order and safety, to ensure onsite access to medical services and to clean the area after the event. After the submission of this request Mr Mandrykin was pressured to remove his name from the application by the administration of his school, Gomel State University, but he refused.

The organisers said denial of permission is part of a pattern of infringement on the rights to assembly and they are concerned that homophobia may be a significant factor in the refusals. A similar application was submitted to the authorities in Minsk was also denied.

"It was important for us to get an official decision of the authorities to understand the current attitude towards LGBT rights," said activist said Viachaslau Bortnik. "Some are calling this time period "Belarusian Warming" under the belief that the government is becoming more open to individual rights but these decisions don’t support that belief. "From the very beginning we did not have much hope to receive a positive answer but the decisions of the Gomel and Minsk City Administrations proved that it is too early to talk about any kind of democratisation in the country."

Although homosexuality is not a criminal offence in Belarus, homophobia is widespread and instances of harassment occur in all spheres of society. Click here for more information about the situation in Belarus. Homosexuality was decriminalised in Belarus in 1994. In December several MEPs asked questions about the situation for LGBT people in the country, often desrcibed as Europe’s last dictatorship.



April 22, 2009 – GulfNews

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Bahrain Islamist societies press for closure of bars, discos

by Habib Toumi, Bahrain Bureau Chief
Manama: Four Islamist societies have urged the interior ministry not to delay the implementation of a decision to close bars and discos in one and two-star hotels.
“As we express our full support to the culture and information minister on her campaign to put an end to all immoral activities plaguing Bahrain and her orders to close discos and bars in one and two-star hotels, we urge the interior ministry to apply the decision without delays,” the Islamic Menbar, Al Eslah, the Islamic Shura and the Islamic Association said on Wednesday.

“There must be zero-tolerance and zero-delay in the application of the decision. We are well aware that there is a strong campaign by some people to resist and eventually reverse the minister’s decision. These people obviously do not care about Bahrain’s reputation and will do everything to preserve their interests, even if it is at the expense of their country’s name,” the societies said in a joint statement.

Shaikha Mai Bint Mohamad Al Khalifa, the information and culture minister since September, last week ordered 43 one and two-star and unclassified hotels to stop selling alcohol and hiring female singers and dancers as part of a crackdown on “illicit activities.” The ban, effective starting last Friday, is part of a drive to clean up the tourism sector in Bahrain, the minister said. However, those who opposed the ban said that Shaikha Mai was playing into the hands of Islamists, mainly those in the parliament’s lower house, who have been piling up pressure on the authorities to impose their agenda.

Their demands for a ban on alcohol and alleged prostitution rings were intensified after the publication of a report in an online magazine ranking Manama among the top ten vice cities in the world. “The decision will affect the professional status of hundreds of Bahrainis working in the tourism sector and will result in heavy losses for those who have invested in hotels. Hoteliers should have been given at least a one-year warning and in all cases, the government will have to compensate them if it goes ahead with the decision,” the association grouping the hoteliers said.

However, ban supporters are charging that the hoteliers were making “fallacious claims” and that they were aware of the damage they were doing to their country and of the destruction of hundreds of families as a result of implication of some of their members in vice activities. “In fact, we want the minister to extend the ban to all the other hotels in order to really clean up tourism,” the four societies said. “This will really stimulate family tourism and will certainly generate much more revenues for Bahrain.”

Comment to GlobalGayz.com:
– This is indicative of the wave of Muslim conservatism that seems to be spreading. The bar next door to where I stay, JJ’s, is probably the best pub in town, very popular with the ex pats. There are no "lady’s of the night" operating there (which was the excuse given for the closure of the bars in 1- and 2 -star hotels. Having said that, there is a sister bar in the same hotel called the Rocking Zebra which is a right knock shop.) All that has happened is the girls have moved their location and are plying their trade elsewhere.

The "tourism" industry in Bahrain is 99% visitors from Saudi who, as I have told you before, come over every weekend (Thursday & Friday in their case) and hit the pubs etc. I’ve been asked many times by some dish-dash-clad Arab "where’s the nearest pub?", nothing specific, they just want to get to a pub and get pissed and shag the girls.

There is talk of the ban being broadened, liquor stores being shut ( They will allow home deliveries for consumption at (non Muslim) homes.) BTW, if you go to a liquor store on Wed or Thurs you will no doubt see queues of cars with Saudi number plates outside… they love the ‘demon drink’. I sometimes ask myself, "do people need to be protected from this?!"



September 2, 2009 – The WIP

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Transsexuals in the Middle East Await the Wave of Change

by Suad Hamada
Bahrain – Hell is what most Arabs think of when the word “transsexual” comes into any conversation since many mistake it with homosexuality, which is a sin in Islam. Most transsexuals prefer to remain anonymous since in some Arab countries they could face jail sentences for dressing or acting like the opposite sex. Many, especially men who feel trapped in the body of a woman, keep their problems hidden to avoid being punished or killed by their families. It is far easier for a woman to have a sex change to become a man than visa-versa. A man who becomes a woman is seen to have dishonored the family.

For 34 years, Bahraini Hussain Rabai felt trapped in a female body. In 2008, the courts officially declared him a man by approving his name change in official documents, from Zainab to Hussain, following sex correction surgery in 2007. Partially blind, Hussain is luckier than most – he was married this year and happy to finally become a man. “I think my wife married me because of my honesty. I told her and her family about my past and my keenness to lead my life as a complete man.”

Transsexuals in Bahrain face the burden of social misconceptions and rejection, but they fare much better than those in Kuwait who face legal sanctions and maltreatment in the prison system. According to the Qatari newspaper Al Raya, the government has allocated two million Kuwaiti dinars to combat homosexuality and transsexuals, especially those demanding the formation of a society to defend their rights. Kuwait also passed a decency law punishing transsexuals and homosexuals to a one-year jail sentence and US$3,500 fine. A group of transsexuals signed a petition to the Kuwaiti Parliament seeking public recognition and cancellation of the law after 12 of them were maltreated in detention. Arrested for wearing female clothes, the prisoners were physically and psychologically abused by guards who shaved their long hair.

In a conservative state such as Saudi Arabia, only sex correction operations are allowed. According to Saudi Daily, around 600 surgeries were conducted from 2001 to 2007, and though these individuals were accepted by the government, they are still being rejected by society and find it difficult to fit in. It might sound tough for transsexuals here, but there is more hope now than ever before of improved rights. With more public awareness through the Internet and newspapers, transsexuals have found a voice and have begun to demand respect and recognition.

Created in 2006 by Salim, a Kuwaiti man who identifies as a woman, the Arabic-language blog Transhelp is just one example of a growing community of support. Since its launch three years ago, the blog has attracted 120,000 members and has had over 200 million hits. Called a “guardian angel” by many of Transhelp’s members, Bahraini lawyer Fawziya Janahi has dedicated her career to helping transsexuals across the Arab world and says she is the first lawyer in the region to specialize in sex change cases.

Janahi became well known in 2005 when she won her first sex change case for a Bahraini transsexual and Hussain Rabai’s case in 2008. She mostly represents clients who want a sex change operation, and who need permission from the court for the surgery. The operations are mainly performed in Thailand and other East Asian countries. In the two cases that she’s won, she also sued the health ministry and passport department to change the official documents of her clients from female to male.

“I ask all my clients to go to psychiatrists to evaluate if their feelings can be corrected [without surgery] or not,” she explains. The young lawyer says that she only takes cases after a full psychiatric evaluation and only after therapy has failed. She has a heavy caseload with clients in Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where she has 50 cases alone.

“Facing criticism isn’t something that I fear – if one of my clients is emotionally a woman trapped in a man’s body or visa-versa and psychiatrists can’t help, then I will.” She also doesn’t worry about religious objections as she feels that if psychiatrists give her the green light to defend their patients, then scholars shouldn’t object.

Conservative Saudi professor and psychologist Dr Tariq Al Habeeb agrees. “Gender isn’t determined only by the genital organs, but how individuals think of themselves.” He says that since religious scholars accept sex correction operations when an individual is born with both genital organs, they should also accept operations for transsexuals who feel trapped in their physical bodies.

“I urge society to open up,” he says. “A man who has felt like a woman since childhood is a woman trapped in the body of a man and urgently needs a sex change operation.”

It took Hussain more than 30 years to convince his family to go on with his surgery and even now not all of his relatives are supportive. With Janahi’s help Hussain won the support of Bahrain’s newspapers to raise funds for his surgery, even though he was unemployed for a full year afterward until the courts recognized him as a man. But his case is simple compared to a friend. “My friend’s agony is harming him – he cannot stay in his body, but he doesn’t have the courage to face the rejection of his family,” Hussain explains.

Yet the wave of change seems like it’s finally coming to the Middle East – just ten years back no one dared debate the rights of transsexuals, let alone acknowledge them publicly. Many transsexuals are not ashamed of their situations and are fighting to be accepted in society by talking to the press or even contacting Human Rights Watch. Many ordinary people have started watching TV programs on the plight of transsexuals, no longer switching the channel fearing punishment from God.

“When I look back to what I went through to become a man,” recalls Hussain, “I remember how I lived with identity crisis all my life.” And this is what keeps Dr Tariq and Fawziya Janahi going despite heavy criticism. “I’m happy to have found my mission in life,” says Janahi. “I’m proud to be called the first Arab and Muslim lawyer to defend transsexuals.”



January 11, 2010 – Asylum Law

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Cross-dressers arrested in Bahrain

by Rex Wockner
Gulf News reported Jan. 4 that nine cross-dressers were arrested at a hotel discothèque in Manama, Bahrain, on New Year’s Eve and charged with public debauchery. The report said the men were of differing Arab nationalities.

Gulf News also reported that two journalists in Cairo have been jailed for a year for outing three celebrities. Al-Balagh Al-Gadid Editor-in-Chief Abdou el-Maghrabi and reporter Ehab al-Agami reportedly filed a story claiming that three actors had been caught in a compromising homosexual situation at a hotel.

Assistance: Bill Kelley



7 February 2011 – PinkNews

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More than 100 gay men arrested in Bahrain

by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Up to 130 gay men were reportedly arrested last week at a private party in Bahrain.
Reports said that the event, at a sports club in Hidd, was a gay wedding and guests were said to have been spotted in make-up and women’s clothes. It was raided by police after neighbours complained about noise levels on Thursday night.

The men, mostly from Bahrain and Gulf countries, were arrested on the charge of “conduct against public morals”. Police are said to be checking whether any have been arrested for similar offences in the past. Gay NZ reports that heir cases will be handled by the Bahrain General Attorney. Homosexuality and cross-dressing are illegal in Bahrain. Gay sex carries a punishment of up to ten years in prison, although this is not usually enforced.



March 4, 2011 – Gay Middle East

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Most "Gay party" participants in Bahrain warned and released

by Dan Littauer, Executive Editor
Manama, Bahrain – On the 3rd of February there was a mass arrest of close to 200 people at a suspected gay party in Muharraq, Bahrain. The arrest followed complaints by residents about noise levels. When the police arrived to the club they apparently reported they saw men dressed up and dancing as women. Some local media described the venue as a "gay party", and even spoke of gay orgy in the party. However this incident did not get much attention. The authorities charged 52 of the participants with debauchery and prostitution which carries a maximum sentence of up to five years. They also charged some of the defendants with organising the party without a proper license as well as the consumption of alcohol and smoking illegal soft drugs. The defendants were held in jail since the 03 February.

The Bahraini Court yesterday (3rd of March) sentenced 49 of the detainees in the "gay party case" to 1 to six months in prison. They found two of the defendants innocent and released them. 46-47 of the detainees are from Saudi Arabia. They all belong to the same clan and were accused of cross-dressing. Two detainees are from Qatar, two from Lebanon, and one is a Kuwaiti citizen.

Although some local Bahraini media simply reported the jail sentence, our sources have verified that those who were not charged with drinking Alcohol (most of them) were allowed to walk away from jail back home on a mere 200 Bahraini Dinars Bail (about 530 US$). A few who had alcohol-related charges (up to four people) are still in custody. This is indeed a positive development. It seems that the government did not use full force (according to Bahraini law, debauchery can be punished for up to 5 years in prison) and rather used this as a kind of warning to the men found guilty.

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