Being gay in the Middle East is taboo. Crackdowns in Arab countries against homosexuals is common and swift, with many countries employing the death penalty against convicted homosexuals.
Now, a new report published by Identity, a gay magazine in Kenya, reveals that gay Kenyan men are being trafficked into the Gulf as sex slaves for the wealthy.
The report alleges that gay and bisexual men are lured from university campuses – particularly from Kenyatta University – with promises of high-paying jobs and then transported to labor as sex workers for men in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
According to the magazine, due to Kenya’s soaring unemployment rate, the men are easily fooled into this trap.
The publication interviewed one Kenyan victim who was promised a job in Qatar but ended up suffering sexual abuse.
Qatar specifically, has no laws against human trafficking, which has made cracking down on the practice nearly impossible.
“Qatar is a transit and destination country for men and women subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and, to a much lesser extent, forced prostitution,” the US State Department stated in a recent report.
“Men and women from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Sudan, Thailand, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and China voluntarily travel to Qatar as laborers and domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude. These conditions include threats of serious physical or financial harm; job switching; the withholding of pay; charging workers for benefits for which the employer is responsible; restrictions on freedom of movement, including the confiscation of passports and travel documents and the withholding of exit permits; arbitrary detention; threats of legal action and deportation; false charges; and physical, mental, and sexual abuse.”
In the Emirates, while being openly gay is illegal, the community has blossomed in recent years. Mark, a gay Canadian man, told Bikyamasr.com that “the community has increased dramatically and people are more willing, and accepting, of the LGBT community here.”
But he said the report that Kenyan men are being used as sex slaves is “not surprising.”
“We have seen a lot of the elite and super wealthy want to be gay, but that would go against their traditions, so instead they often marry and then hire or do this kind of thing, to have their real desires met. It is a problem of society not opening up to the gay lifestyle and forcing it to the background,” he argued.
By Sharifa Ghanem