Gay United Arab Emirates News & Reports 2008-09

The United Arab Emirates (also the UAE or the Emirates) is a Middle Eastern country situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia on the Persian Gulf, comprising seven emirates:
Abu Dhabi:
(Information 1), (Info 2), (Info 3), (Info 4), (PBS-TV Report)
(Info 1)
(Info 1), (Info 2), (Info 3), (Info 4), (PBS-TV Report)
(Info 1), (Info 2), (Info 3)
Ras al-Khaimah:
(Info 1), (Info 2), (Info 3) ,(PBS-TV Report)
(Info 1)
Umm al-Quwain:
(Info 1), (Info 2)
It borders Oman and Saudi Arabia

Also see:
Dubai blog comments on homosexuality

Gay Middle East Web Site
More information about Islam & Homosexuality
Other articles of interest
Queer Muslim magazine

Gay Islam discussion groups:

1 Elton’s concert could help gays says Tatchell 1/08

2 Cross-dressers Collared in Dubaai Crackdown 5/08

3 Dubai detains 17 accused of homosexual behavior 7/08

4 An Indian businessman in Dubai advises about finding gay contacts in Dubai 7/08

5 Jail for two women in Emirates’ first lesbian indecency case 9/08

6 British Author Banned in Dubai for Homosexual References in Book 02/09

7 Ruby-Sachs: Getting rid of the “fourth gender” 3/09

8 Boy Raped and Killed in Mosque Toilet, One Held 12/09

9 Rights activists draft strategy to stop violence against Arab women 12/09

10 Woman files for divorce from gay husband in the UAE 5/11

4th January 2008 – PinkNews

Elton’s concert could help gays says Tatchell

Sir Elton John has sparked controversy by setting a concert date in Abu Dhabi later this month.

Homosexuality is punishable with imprisonment of up to 14 years in the country and there is general discrimination towards homosexuals in the United Arab Emirates. Peter Tatchell, gay human rights campaigner from OutRage!, said: "In early 2006, the United Arab Emirates imposed six years jail on 11 gay men arrested at a private party. They were imprisoned not for sexual acts, but merely for being gay and attending a gay social gathering. This is a highly repressive state, with few human rights for anyone."

Just two years ago Sir Elton asked the British Government to do more for gay rights around the globe in an article he wrote for the Observer . "I want our government, which has presided over many positive changes for gay people here in Britain, to ensure that ending violations of gay people’s fundamental human rights around the world becomes an explicit issue in its diplomatic relations with other countries," he wrote.

The concert on January 22nd may help change LGBT rights in the United Arab Emirates, or at least shine a light on the country’s lack of human rights records on gays. "Swamping homophobic states like the UAE with openly gay entertainers could be an effective way to help subvert anti-gay ignorance and prejudice," said Mr Tatchell. "Elton’s flamboyant queer presence will be a slap in the face for the straight Islamic establishment in Abu Dhabi."

The over-the-top star will perform at an open-air concert at the luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

26 May 2008 – Reuters

Cross-dressers Collared in Dubaai Crackdown

by Lin Noueihed
Police in Dubai have arrested several men and women for cross-dressing in what they said was a campaign to preserve the social values of the cosmopolitan Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub, newspapers reported on Monday.
Dubai is part of the seven-member United Arab Emirates, a Muslim country where cross-dressing is frowned upon but whose population is dominated by migrants with diverse backgrounds and lifestyles.

"We have noted an emerging trend of men dressed as women and vice versa in the UAE markets and streets," the Khaleej Times daily quoted Dubai Police Chief Dhahi Khalfan Tamim as saying, "Several men in women’s dresses and make-up have already been arrested from shopping malls and residential buildings," he said.

The detainees were being referred to the public prosecutor as part of the one-week campaign called "Preserve Our Social Values", though it was not clear what charges would be brought. Tamim urged the Social Affairs Ministry to study the reasons behind the trend, which he said could be a consequence of mixed-sex schools.

Dubai is a city of sky-scrapers and mega-developments, which attracts foreign workers rangingf from well-paid Western executives to low-wage Asian labourers. Tourists may wear bikinis and drink cocktails at hotel nightclubs but sex outside marriage is banned as is homosexual behaviour.

July 17,2008 –

Dubai detains 17 accused of homosexual behavior

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Police in the Gulf tourist hub of Dubai say they’ve detained 17 foreigners for allegedly displaying homosexual behavior in malls and other public places. Police spokesman Zuhair Horoun says all the suspects are men who were either visiting or working in Dubai. He says they were detained Wednesday but did not elaborate or give details about their behavior.

Dubai’s Gulf News reported Thursday that police detained "40 cross-dressing tourists." The paper quotes Dubai’s police chief as saying the arrests are part of a campaign against "transvestites." Outward homosexual behavior is banned in the United Arab Emirates. Despite its Western outlook, Dubai is a Muslim city-state that remains largely hostile to homosexuality.

July 24, 2008 – GayBombay Yahoo Group

An Indian businessman in Dubai advises about finding gay contacts in Dubai

Though I usually avoid replying to the chain of recent complaints about gay life in Dubai, I am very amused by one particualr frustrated soul’s plea for freedom of expression has been first turned into some kind of group racial attack and finally culminated into an unmentioned yet definite search for sex by a few others…to answer the questions raised:

1) I think every country has its set of boundaries, Regarding the arrest (described in report #3 above) you would be most definitely arrested for streaking or having sex openly in India as well. Such arrests can happen everywhere that open sexuality or overt cruising is displayed. Dubai is a conservative Islamist city and it gives ample freedom to people as long as you remain in your boundaries–unlike India, the police do not pose and blackmail gays. The bottom line is as long as you are discreet no one will bother you in Dubai

2) For people who are protesting treatment of gays in Dubai, may I know if would you hang around with crossdressers in your home city in India? If not please do not be a hypocrite and create a fuss about these people here. You are here by your choice of earning money or whatever reasons, if you are not happy you are free to leave.

3) For people looking for cruising places, I have heard Jumeriah Beach #1 is very happening especially late evenings and nights. But again a word of caution! Know your boundaries cuz if you cross them you are most likely to end up behind bars

4) As for making contact, search for Dubai gay on Yahoo groups and you will find a dozen; post a message and you will get ample responses depending on what you are looking for. Similarly, Facebook has a lot of gay groups from Dubai…Orkut, Gaydar and Guys4men can be accessed using proxies which you will need to figure out.

5) Lastly, though it is not very relevant to this mail, I am appalled to see the Indian obsession for fair skin creep in the gay world. I say so cuz I have seen a lot of Indians in Dubai posting messages seeking only Arabs or Westerners, even if they are seeking Indians they want someone from North India.

Be discreet and you will be OK here. Cheers!

September 1, 2008 – PinkNews

Jail for two women in Emirates’ first lesbian indecency case

by Staff Writer,
A Bulgarian woman and her Lebanese partner have been sentenced to one month in jail after being found guilty by a Dubai court of indecent acts. It is thought to be the first case of its kind in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai’s Court of Appeal upheld the convictions.

The 36-year-old Bulgarian and 30-year-old Lebanese woman will both be deported after they have served their sentences. 7Days newspaper reported that they were spotted kissing and petting on a public beach in April. They both pleaded not guilty to charges they had behaved indecently. Dubai, one of the seven oil-rich United Arab Emirates, is a popular destination for UK tourists. While the majority of its 5.6 million residents are foreigners, homosexual relations are still a crime and punishments range from jail to deportation and death penalty.

In July 40 men were arrested in a crackdown on transvestites. "Any man or woman who dresses up and behaves like the opposite gender in public will be questioned and legal action will be taken against him or her," Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai Police Chief, said in a statement on the Dubai Police website. The 40 transvestites were referred to the Public Prosecution, which issued an administrative deportation order against them. All of those arrested were visitors and tourists and not residents. This is against the UAE’s traditions and social values," he said.

In May Dahi announced that transvestites caught in public would be arrested as part of a new campaign. He said "transvestites have been seen of late in public places, including shopping malls." He said the campaign under the slogan "Our social values are precious.. let’s protect them", targets those who "do not respect social values and behave like the opposite sex."

16-February-2009 – The Celebrity Cafe

British Author Banned in Dubai for Homosexual References in Book

by John Winn
Geraldine Bedell may be one of the world’s unsung authors, but that didn’t stop her from being banned from traveling in Dubai for homosexual references in her latest work.
According to the Associated Press, Bedell was told by International Festival of Literature director, Isobel Abulhoul, not to come because "I don’t want our festival remembered for the launch of the controversial book." Bedell was set to appear at the Dubai-based festival Feb. 26 alongside such authors as Margaret Atwood and Jung Chang.

In Bedell’s latest work, The Gulf Between Us, one of the minor characters, Sheikh Rashid, is gay. He doesn’t appear in the book. In addition to the homosexual references, Abulhoul took issue with the book’s critical analysis of Islam. "Of course it makes reference to Islam because it’s set in a Muslim country, and part of it is set during Ramadan," Said Bedell, who lived in Bahrain during the 1980s. "But the narrator–a middle aged Englishwoman–is incredibly respectful to Islam."

According to Bedell, her publisher, Penguin Books, approved of the idea of launching the book in the Gulf, since it takes place in the Middle East and few books in English are set there.

"It’s all very unfortunate," Juliet Annan, Bedell’s publisher, said. "In effect they are banning the book, which means no book chain can buy it."

"It’s very ironic," Bedell said. "Because it [the book] is very sympathetic to the Gulf." The Festival, a partnership between Abulhoul and Emirates Airline’s Chairwoman, Maurice Flanagan, is described as "an international forum for an integrated expression of contemporary literary culture." Bedell, a reporter for the UK’s Guardian newspaper, has previously published a novel, The Handmade House.

March 19, 2009 –

Ruby-Sachs: Getting rid of the “fourth gender”

by Emma Ruby-Sachs
Emirati women attend a football training session for Emirati schoolboys at the Football Club in the Gulf emirate of al-Ain on February 10, 2009. Emirati women attend a football training session for Emirati schoolboys at the Football Club in the Gulf emirate of al-Ain on February 10, 2009. Jezebel (one of my favorite sites) reported yesterday that the United Arab Emirates are pursuing a public awareness campaign about the infiltration of the fourth gender.

Many may remember the ongoing research on the “third gender,” a feminine man, physical man who’s gender identity does not match his sex, hermaphrodite or homosexual (depending on who you talk to). I have seen reports about the notion of the third gender as a healthy inclusion of transgendered and homosexual individuals in societies otherwise intolerant of “deviant” sexual behavior. I have also read about the third sex as a pariah and low class of individuals tolerated, but not included.

That said, the UAE ministry of social affairs has launched a campaign called “Excuse me, I am a girl” aimed at ridding the “fourth gender” from the country. As Naji Hay (from the ministry) asserts: “The phenomenon of manly women has become apparent in society…. These women are against the normal nature of females. Their deviant behavior threatens other normal girls. This is why we had to launch this initiative to protect society from this menace.”

What I found so fascinating about this report was its indication that gender performance is effectively equal to sexuality in the UAE. Manly women may be a threat because some are lesbians, but manly women are unacceptable even if they are not lesbians. This element of performance runs throughout the research on the third gender and, frankly, throughout our own country’s understanding of LGBT people.

To what extent are we told to hide who we are, how we interact with people? How many times have you been yelled at or spit on while holding hands with your partner? More importantly, how many times have loved ones asked you to keep quiet and stop announcing “it” everywhere? Even those most religious and intolerant Americans would be happy if gays and lesbians could acknowledge their deviance, overcome it and learn to behave in a normal way.

In some ways, the UAE has it right. The performance of new gender roles is threatening. It is the expression of difference and, sometimes, of a difference in attraction. This expression encourages diversity and communicates to others that they are not alone in their frustration with the roles they have been shown. So here’s to manly women, in the UAE and at home. Proclaiming difference is never easy, and it is so vitally important.

1 December 2009 – Khaleej Times

Boy Raped and Killed in Mosque Toilet, One Held

by Amira Agarib
Dubai — A man who allegedly raped and murdered a six-year-old boy in the bathroom of a mosque in Dubai has been arrested. A Dubai Police source said the operations room received information that a Pakistani child was found dead in the bathroom of a mosque located in Al Qusais on Friday.
When the police reached the mosque, a man told them that he had come to the mosque for Duhr prayers and that when he went to the bathroom to prepare for it, he saw traces of blood on the floor after which he saw the child behind the door. The boy’s pants had been removed.

The police, upon entering the bathroom, noticed that the child had been raped. They took the body to the General Department of Forensic Medicine and launched an investigation. Later, a Bahraini national was arrested on the suspicion of committing the crime. He confessed to the crime during interrogation. He said he consumed alcohol late into the night on Thursday and went to the mosque to perform Eid prayers on Friday and returned home. He continued drinking alcohol and later went out to visit his friend to celebrate the festival.

Around 9.30am, he left his friend’s house and went to the mosque. He saw three children on the street, who asked him for Eid gifts. The man told the police that he saw a boy, whose age he guessed to be around nine. He told the boy that he had no money on him but he would give money if the latter followed him.

He then took the boy to the bathroom in the mosque, locked the door and raped him during which he covered the boy’s nose and mouth with his hands to prevent him from screaming. He later noticed that the child had stopped moving, so he left him there and fled the scene. He returned home and had a shower. The suspect told the police that he did not know the boy and that day was the first time he had seen him. He also confessed that it was not the first time he had had forcible sex with males.


December 11, 2009 – Magharebia

Rights activists draft strategy to stop violence against Arab women

by Jamel Arfaoui for Magharebia in Tunis
Women’s rights activists this week drafted a strategy to prevent violence against women in the Arab world that promotes legislative and awareness-raising campaigns, training, and wider dissemination of data and research. The strategy was drawn up by participants in a Tunis workshop aimed at sharing experiences in the field of fighting violence against Arab women. The three-day event kicked off on December 6th and was organised by the Arab Women Organization (AWO).

"The strategy … stress[es] the need to protect women from violence and to prevent it through laws, legislation, awareness, training, dissemination of the women’s rights culture, the culture of non-violence, and provision of national data, research and statistics on the phenomenon," AWO member and secretary-general of Jordan’s National Council for Family Affairs, Haifa Abu Ghazala, said on Tuesday at the event.

Participants examined a range of themes and ways to prevent violence against Arab women. They also shared experiences and experiments in the field of strategies, policies, programmes and methods of intervention on the national level. Experts at the event said that Arab women suffer from four forms of violence: domestic violence, community violence, institutional violence and violence in armed conflicts.

According to AWO Secretary-General Waduda Badran, the forms of violence against women in Arab countries "differ according to environments, regions, social classes, and cultural and age categories. As a result, the confrontation mechanisms also vary." Badran added that the Arab world’s current situation "requires … comprehensive strategies that include short, medium and long-term measures based on an in-depth and comprehensive vision of the nature of societies and nature of women’s standing therein".

For her part, the head of Morocco’s Department of Women, Family and Children’s Affairs, Saida Idrissi, said that Tunisia’s presidency of the AWO would "give renewed momentum to joint Arab action through supporting and activating the commitments of Arab countries, foremost among which is the drafting of an Arab strategy for combating violence against women".

"The main aim of this workshop is to share experiences and experiments, and to draft a unified Arab strategy with guidance from several successful experiences, such as those of Tunisia and Morocco, especially in the field of activating women’s participation in public and political life," added Idrissi. At the close of the workshop, participants issued a statement urging AWO "member states to issue periodic national reports on the reality of violence against women, and to draft an Arab pilot law in the field of protecting women from violence".

Hajeera Ait Ahmed, a women’s affairs official in Algeria, said in a speech during the workshop that her country in 1979 "ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which constituted a main reference point for reviewing some laws, especially the Family Law, Nationality Law, Prisons Organization and Social Re-Integration of Prisoners Law, Health Protection and Promotion Law, and the Labour and Social Security Law".

Ahmed said the review also prompted a 2008 constitutional amendment that encourages women’s political participation through a quota system for representation.

"Civil society has to communicate with all women, without any discrimination, because this shouldn’t be restricted to the salons of intellectuals," the head of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, Nehad Abul Qumsan, said in a statement to Magharebia. "They have to go to female workers and farmers." Mohammed Zuabi, director of the Family Protection Department in Jordan, said the workshop "shows each country how advanced it is in the field of fighting violence against women, as compared to other countries".

28 May 2011 – GME

Woman files for divorce from gay husband in the UAE

by UAE Editor for GME
Dubai: Gulf News reports that a woman has filed for divorce after she claimed to have made a chance discovery of her husband’s alleged relationship with another man.
The woman, believed to be from a Gulf country, filed her divorce claim before the Dubai Sharia Court, saying she accidentally noticed a love text message that her husband received from his gay partner on his mobile phone.

The woman alleged in her claim that her husband started behaving “oddly and abnormally” a few months after they got married and she had seen him wearing “her lingerie at nights and using her perfume”, a court source told Gulf News. It is interesting that Gulf News reports that the husband “wears women’s underwear” which is often cited in connection to homosexuality in the Arab press throughout the gulf as a sign of “abnormality” and “disease”. In other words, if this is true, it is a homophobic attempt to discredit further the husband.

She said she received the “shock of her life” when she heard her husband hiding in another room and chatting with another man on his mobile phone. At first the woman tried to avoid confronting her husband, until her suspicions were confirmed when she discovered that her husband is cheating on her with another man. The woman alleged in her claim that her husband was constantly chatting with his gay partner online or exchanging mobile messages with him.

When she confronted her husband, the woman claims that he refused to break up with his gay lover and she also learnt that he “enjoyed playing the woman’s role”. The woman claimed that she learnt that her husband’s lover too was married and had two children. The woman claimed that her husband had confessed to her that he was gay. He had also apparently told her that she was free to stay with him or file for divorce. The claimant also stated that her husband told her that he did not care for her opinion or decision. GulfNews reported that a a judgment is expected soon.

Gay Middle East fully understands the pain and disappointment in such unhappy marriages. Such problems would be resolved very quickly if homosexuality was decriminalised in the UAE and social expectations would be adjusted. If families were to accept their members as who they are rather than forcing them to get married, a lot of toil and trauma would be spared from everyone involved. We call upon the Dubai court to act responsibly, dissolve the marriage (without penalising the husband) and advise the Dubai Emirate to change its laws to avoid such unhappy situations in the future.