Yemen’s first LGBT web site: Yemen Queer–its there but it doesn’t work.
18 May 2004 – Aljazeera
Journalists convicted for gay report – A Yemeni court has convicted three journalists, their lawyer has said, for publicly discussing homosexuality.
A Yemeni court has convicted three journalists, their lawyer has said, for publicly discussing homosexuality. The court ruled that a report in Arabic-language newspaper The Week in March 2003, which included interviews with men jailed for homosexuality, had violated Yemeni morals and customs. Homosexuality in the conservative Arab state is considered a taboo and Yemen’s main religion, Islam, denounces homosexuality.
"The ruling came as a huge shock to me," former editor-in-chief Jalal al-Sharaabi said on Tuesday. "But I respect the law and my lawyer will defend me." The court gave al-Sharaabi three-month suspended sentence and two other journalists who used to work at the paper both received five-month suspended terms, their lawyer said. All three journalists, now working at different newspapers, will appeal the decision, their lawyer said.
A June 2004 commentary about same-sex marriage in the Enlgish language newspaper ‘Yemen Times’ stirred up some reactions and replies–one pro-gay and the rest anti-gay. This debate appears to have little to do with Yemeni society specifically.
The fallacy of same-sex unions
by Paul Kokoski – For the Yemen Times
Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon. Due to benign interpretations of the homosexual condition itself it is increasingly being viewed as something neutral or even good. Presently it threatens to destroy the institution of marriage in Canada and the United States.
No ideology, however, can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman. The natural truth about marriage was confirmed by the Revelation contained in the biblical accounts of creation (Gen 1:27-28. Gen:2:24) . According to consistent biblical testimony concerning homosexuality, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. In fact, all major religions of the world consider homosexuality an objective disorder.
The arguments in favor of same-sex marriage are varied and betray a lack of correct reasoning. They are little more than attempts to rationalize without thinking rationally. Some argue that same-sex marriages are about tolerance and equality. As natural law implies, however, sexual orientation does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnicity, gender or age in respect to non-discrimination. An individual’s sexual orientation is generally not known to others unless he publicly identifies himself as having this orientation or unless some overt behavior manifests it. Unlike race, ethnic background, sex and age, homosexual orientation is an objective disorder and evokes moral concern. In suggesting otherwise one is merely exploiting tolerance in the service of a particular ideology. The equality issue begs the question, why is there not a right to allow brothers to marry sisters and adults to marry children? More to the point, why not allow polygamy?
A popular argument is that same-sex unions can in no way be the cause of any injustice to others. As a civil law, however, they cannot help but play a decisive role in shaping both the thought and behavior of individuals and society. Legal recognition of same-sex unions would act to obscure basic moral values causing a devaluation of the institution of marriage. It is therefore somewhat naive to suggest, as do a number of proponents of same-sex marriage, that religious institutions will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages in the future if same-sex marriage becomes law. If a government can redefine the term “marriage” they can also redefine any existing laws to which the term marriage is related.
Where adopted children are involved in same-sex marriages, they are deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood and hence the opportunity for full human development.
Men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation.
Nonetheless, homosexual acts must be considered wrong because they close the sexual act to the gift of life. Procreation, while not the only purpose of marriage, is nonetheless essential to the institution. The fact that some married couples do not have children either because of infertility or personal decision does not determine the purpose of marriage. Exceptions do not invalidate but prove the rule; individual practices do not invalidate the objectives of an institution; variations do not nullify a norm.
Marriage exists solely between a man and a woman who through their personal gift of self to each other, perfect one another into a communion of persons. This human development of the spouses and the proper nurturing of children who are the fruit of such unions makee an immense contribution to the common good of society. One does not need to have any particular religion to recognize this, or that the family based on marriage is the best way to bring up happy, productive children.
In rejecting erroneous opinions that support homosexuality one does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood. While the Canadian government is working to legalize same-sex marriages I hope that lawyers and politicians of other nations will have the greater foresight and fortitude; that they work to uphold the institution of marriage as it is defined and not deconstruct it to appear as merely an expression of free love.
12th July 2004 – Yemen Times, Issue 754, Volume 13 , From 12 July 2004 to 14 July 2004
Same sex marriage: It’s about tolerance and equality
by Christoph Lombardo Christoph_Lombardo@yahoo.com For the Yemen Times
As a gay man living in Yemen, I read with some concern Paul Kokoski’s commentary printed on 24 June entitled “The Fallacy of Same Sex Unions.”
Mr. Kokoski wrote a lot in his commentary about morality and the nature of sexual orientation, most of which seems to reflect his own personal feelings and a rationalization of what appears to be his personal prejudice on the subject. But what Mr. Kokoski does not mention is that gay people do not chose to be gay any more than heterosexuals choose to be heterosexual. I think by now we all agree that one is born straight, gay or bisexual, and that one does not choose one’s sexual orientation anymore than one chooses one’s gender or race. Assuming we are all creatures of God, is it not therefore God that made us the way we are – be it heterosexual or homosexual?
Apart from tolerance and equality (something sorely lacking in most countries including the United States), same sex unions — or same sex marriage if you wish to call it that — is also about equal rights under the law, including the right to inherit property, to make communal decisions, spousal benefits, family reunification and the right to other legal privileges (and responsibilities) married couples have and take for granted. These are the things gay people are struggling for through marriage or civil union, and one day, like other minorities before us I am certain we shall attain it.
Mr. Kokoski shows his true colors when he states that “sexual orientation does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnicity, gender or age in respect to non-discrimination.” Given the fact that we are all creatures of God with attributes given to us by Him, on what basis does Mr. Kokoski therefore make such a statement — his religion, sense or personal propriety, self-righteousness or just plain bigotry?
I thank the Yemen Times for printing this rebuttal, especially given the cultural norms of some of its readers that may run contrary to my comments above.
Yemen Times Issue 760, Volume 13 , From 29 July 2004 to 2 August 2004
by Paul Kokoski firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish to respond to a recent letter in the Yemen Times. I have enclosed the following letter for publication.
Regarding the letter “Same-sex marriage: It’s about tolerance and equality” by Christoph Lombardo, (Thursday July 15th – Issue 754, Volume 13, from July 12th – July 14th, 2004)
Christoph Lombardo is incorrect in claiming that “gay people do not chose to be gay”. Despite several scientific studies the cause of sexual attraction between members of the same sex is unknown. The American Psychiatric Association has, in fact, held varying positions on the subject. Nonetheless, were it to be proven that some individuals have a genetic determination to homosexuality, in itself this evidence would not serve to invalidate the long tradition of belief that homosexuality, according to the “natural law”, is an unnatural or disordered condition.
“ Natural” does not, as some think, refer here simply to what is in accord with the biological processes of man. Nor does it refer to what is innate, nor even to what is “normal”. Rather, the word “natural” has a metaphysical meaning. That is said to be “natural” which accords with what is good for human beings. Homosexual acts are contrary to the natural law because they close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complimentarily. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
Hence, homosexuals should not be entitled to any legal rights as homosexuals under civil law. Just because “we are all creatures of God”, this does not mean that we all have the right to do as we feel or please as Mr. Lombardo believes. This would lead to anarchy. Christoph Lombardo’s letter essentially represents a systematic effort on the part of many today to banish religious principles from public debate; to discount and marginalize persons with religious faith. Typical of gay rights advocates is that they incoherently and prejudicially label those who oppose homosexuality as “homophobic”. They fail to understand the logic that it is possible to “love the sinner but hate the sin”.
In rejecting erroneous opinions that support homosexuality one does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood.
Yemen Times Issue 759, Volume 13 , From 29 July 2004 to 1 August 2004
Opposing ‘same-sex’ marriage
by Abdulhaqq Abdullah email@example.com For the Yemen Times
I’d like to respond to the letter on same sex marriages by Mr Christoph Lombardo, printed in the Yemen Times (issue no 754 on Monday 12th July 2004)
Firstly his presumption that ‘we all agree that one is born straight, gay or bisexual, and that one does not choose one’s sexual orientation’ is not only incorrect but completely misses the point. Assuming that in one blasé statement Mr Christoph Lombard has solved the whole nature / nurture debate – it is of no importance. Debating whether homosexuals are born as such or are shaped by social circumstances misses the point, and either way, the logical conclusion is one that alleviates all responsibility from the individual, and implicitly depicts all homosexuals as victims.
One feels obliged to exclaim out loud “ah, there, there, poor oppressed homosexual, it’s not your fault you’re gay and have had to suffer cruel subjugation all your life at the hands of an ignorant and bigoted world which refuses to understand your terrible plight and daily struggle for acceptance. You poor, poor oppressed – and by definition innocent – minority”.
However, child molesters, rapists and insane axe murderers all have just as strong a case – surely they too were either born that way or shaped by society, in neither scenario did they ‘choose’ their desires or their ‘way of life’ – are they not also victims or members of an oppressed minority group just as deserving of our sympathy?
The point is that whether one chooses it or one feels compelled, degenerate or criminal behaviour is shunned and reprimanded by society. A murderer is not absolved from blame because he hears voices in his head, rather the criminally insane are taken into care and criminals into custody precisely to protect everyone from the dangers they pose. Whether we perceive those who commit crime (or encourage criminal activity) as being victims or criminals is far less important than the fact that they commit or advocate crime.
So is homosexuality a crime? Well certainly in the West homosexuality is not a crime, on the contrary the personal and sexual freedom of homosexuals is championed and to voice disagreement with that is a terrible social faux-pas. However according the three largest monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) homosexuality is a crime. And more precisely, according to Yemeni law (by which Mr. Lombardo must surely abide whilst a resident in Yemen) homosexuality is a crime.
I myself am a Muslim, and therefore hold that homosexuality is a crime. Not because I’m a bigot, not because I have any particular prejudice against a choice of lifestyle, or because I have any particular ‘phobia’ or deeply hidden doubts about my own sexual identity. I understand homosexuality to be wrong because I’m a Muslim and know that Islam forbids it – just as Islam forbids theft, murder, the eating of port, any extra marital sex and many other things.
By calling for tolerance of same sex marriages Mr. Lombardo implicitly argues the irrelevance and impracticality of Islam, and the need to separate religious teaching from ruling. It is this clandestine propaganda and the effort to justify something that Islam explicitly forbade, which is really the problem. Quite honestly I don’t care what sordid activities Mr. Lombardo conducts in the privacy of his bedroom, whether with animal vegetable or mineral, but when he draws public attention to himself and seeks a public nod of approval – a society of Muslims must say no. I wonder if the authorities in Yemen agree with myself or with Mr. Lombardo.
August 7, 2004 – Yemen Times
Responding to ‘same-sex’ marriage article
by Ian macdonald firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to comment on the article written by Christoph Lombardo about the same sex marriage published in Yemen Times recently. I am very surprised to find a man who is proud of being a gay. What a shame!
My dear, you have to be proud of yourself for being a great doctor, teacher, etc or for getting a Nobel Prize or for doing something useful for mankind, but not for being gay nor for supporting same sex marriages. You claimed that you were born gay, what a silly excuse! All human beings are born natural, then some like you became gay.
You are in favor of same sex marriage? i.e., you want a man to marry another man, how? Who will be responsible for the family? Who will give a birth to a child, the first man or the second? My dear, what kind of life are they going to have? Frankly speaking, are you going to have sex with another man, and will you let him have sex with you?
Please, you have to answer.
January 18, 2009 – Daily Queer News
Yemeni Jihaddists Murder Three Gay Men
by Daily Queer News – The Jawa Report
The militants appointed themselves judge, jury and executioner. The murder of the gay men is the same as the murder of the Jewish rabbi last month. In both instances, the militants justify their murder of minorities as a public service. The fanatical intolerance fostered by the neo-Salafis requires the extermination of “enemies” where enemies are defined as anyone who holds a different world view or refuses to submit to their totalitarianism. The jihaddists have growing control over various territory in Yemen that is distinct from the “ungoverned tribal regions” often noted as a security concern. The Talibanizaton of Yemen is more than a territorial expansion, its also a penetration of government structures and social mores.
Mujahideen are killing young people in Ja’ar on suspicion of sexual “irregularities” December 28, 2008 Saeed Abdullah was a young 22-year-old Hanan shot dead by the Mujahideen in the city of Abyan province Ja’ar. Well-informed sources said the victim is the third young man is killed by Mujahideen militants in the street in front of Central Market, Ja’ar. He was killed last Saturday night on allegations that the young man was gay.Sources close to the jihadists said that the leaders of the armed group is the Islamic Emirate of Ja’ar… noted that among the mujahideen, they have burned police stations and government institutions and attacked military and security patrols during the last period of smuggling and complicity by local authorities.
Lets wait for the Western outrage, it should be here any minute. Its a hate crime!
April 29, 2010 – Gay city News
Yemen Mag Shut For Pro-Gay Article – Ex-pat filmmaker’s review of lesbian-themed Egyptian movie sparks outrage, violent threats
by Doug Ireland
In the Arabian Peninsula nation of Yemen, the country’s only serious cultural magazine has been shut down by authorities because of an article that characterizes homosexuality as “part and parcel of our society” and advocates gay rights. The magazine, Al Thaqafiya, which is government-funded, became the subject of a wave of verbal fireworks and violent threats and exhortations this month from members of the nation’s parliament, religious leaders, and others after it published a film review by Yemeni filmmaker Hamid Aqbi, who now lives in Paris. Aqbi’s review discussed a new Egyptian film, “Heena Maysara” (“Till things get better”), which contains a lesbian love scene.
In his review of the film, Aqbi not only described homosexuality as “part and parcel of our society” but “called on the parliament to extend more rights to gay people and went as far as to suggest that the Yemeni government should consider allowing gay marriages,” according to the website MidEast News Source. As a result, on April 7, after an uproar among lawmakers about Aqbi’s article, Yemen’s parliament sent a memo to the Ministry of Communications demanding that the government shut down the magazine and investigate those responsible. Al Thaqafiya subsequently ceased publication at the insistence of authorities, and its editorial team became the target of an official investigation.
Aqbi has been the subject of death threats as a result of his article, and he has promised to take legal action against one member of the Yemeni parliament, Muhammad Al-Hizmi, whom Aqbi accuses of inciting people to murder him. Yemeni websites, which are rigorously monitored and controlled by the government, have been filled with denunciations of Aqbi and calls for his execution for “promoting pornography.” One forum even urged “our terrorist brothers” to “prepare one of their suicide operatives to wipe this malignant man off the face of the earth.”
Yemeni journalist Mohammed Al-Qadhi, who is based in Sana’a, the nation’s capital, said, “In Yemen, there is no gay community, because according to Islamic Sharia it’s prohibited. It’s a very conservative society and no one will admit that they’re gay.” According to MidEast News Source, Al-Qadhi “speculates that the editors of Al Thaqafiya apparently overlooked the article and probably did not notice how explosive its content was; otherwise it never would have gone in.”
Reviewer Aqbi told the German news agency DPA, “Those who are instigating these lies think they are agents of God on Earth. These are the same people who permit child marriages. They are blocking a law to limit the age of marriage and another law that prevents carrying weapons without legal justification or a license. They’re against women’s freedom and they are silent when it comes to government corruption.” He added, “I believe that it’s the right of any person anywhere to choose their way of life and to enjoy personal freedoms. I don’t think this warrants me being labeled a heretic and killing me.”
Writing on his excellent blog on the Arab world, Al Bab (al-bab.com), Brian Whitaker, former Middle East correspondent of the UK’s Guardian and author of “Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East,” noted, “Homosexual acts are illegal in Yemen and in theory can result in execution. On the whole, the authorities are preoccupied with more pressing issues but, with little government control over much of the country, gay people are at risk from other elements taking matters into their own hands.”
Elaborating on that point, Whitaker wrote, “In 2008, three young men were killed by militants in Shabwa province on suspicion of being gay. One of them, 22-year-old Said Abdullah Hannan, was shot dead in the street in front of the main market in Jaar.”
The film review in which Aqbi made his pro-gay comments discussed a new work by one of Egypt’s leading younger directors, Khaled Youssef, a protégé of the late Youssef Chahine, who was considered Egypt’s foremost filmmaker. Chahine, known as “the pioneer of social realism” in Egyptian cinema, made several films that addressed homosexuality, most notably “Wadan Bonaparte” (“Adieu, Bonaparte,” 1985). Set in the period of the Napoleonic expedition into Egypt, the film explores the complex relationships between East and West through the prism of a homosexual French general falling in love with a local Egyptian man.
Chahine’s protégé Youssef’s “Heena Maysara,” released in Yemen in January, is set in a Cairo shantytown and tackles issues of poverty, crime, and physical and sexual abuse. The film stars two popular Egyptian actresses, Ghada Abdel-Razeq and Sumaya Al-Khashab, who portray a lesbian encounter. In the most controversial scene, Abdel-Razeq, who plays a lesbian, tries to seduce Khashab. The scene shows Abdel-Razeq hitting on Khashab — who plays a prostitute named Nahed — and kissing her. According to an article on the Dubai-based Al Arabiya television network’s website, “Religious scholars in Egypt are outraged by a lesbian scene in the new movie, telling audiences to stay away from the sinful flick and calling for the director and actresses to be prosecuted.”
A prominent Egyptian preacher and Islamic Studies professor at Cairo University, Dr. Abdel-Sabour Shahin, accused the movie of spreading homosexuality and promoting debauchery. Claiming the movie is part of “a Zionist and American conspiracy” to destroy the moral fabric of society, he called on authorities to prosecute director Youssef and the two actresses who played the lesbian scene on the big screen. Youssef, however, is not the only Egyptian film director to recently tackle the issue of homosexuality. A 2006 hit, “The Yacoubian Building” by director Marwan Hamed, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Alaa Al-Aswany, includes a homosexual affair between a newspaper editor and a soldier. The film has become a staple of Sundance Channel programming here in the US.
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND.