A new video emerged in the United Arab Emirates that shows gay men being “cured” of homosexuality. The video, disseminated across social networks has left many in the country questioning the rights of the LGBT community and their struggle to gain full citizenship in an open manner.
The 6-minute “tutorial” entitled “Be Yourself” has shocked the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of the UAE when it was posted a little more than a week ago on YouTube.
The video depicts five young men as the starring characters: Rashid Al-Muaini, Majid Al-Muaini, Ali Al-Ghaithi, Jamel Al-Ghaithi and Mohammad Eissa. The scene is set in a typical suburban neighbourhood of one of the UAE cities (most likely Ajman), where the five meet.
PinkNews.co.uk detailed the video in an article on the topic:
Two are in a traditional Emirati dress of Kandura and Kiffayeh greeted by a visibly shy effeminate guy with long hair, wearing a t-shirt and jeans, who says ‘Hi guys’ in a high-pitched voice, proceeding to shake their hands in a camp manner and playing with his hair.
He is contrasted with two other guys dressed in western style who pass-by and greet in a ‘brotherly’ macho-like manner.
The effeminate guy acts all shy and blushes when he’s invited, with a ‘wink’ to come inside the villa next door.
Once in the villa’s living room, the effeminate man is told that he needs to change his personality. One of the traditional-dressed men asks: ‘will you change it or not?’ He replies ‘yes but now?’ And is told ‘leave it to us’.
They proceed to show the effeminate guy how to mimic masculine gestures. Later he is given a ‘make-over’ where his hands and face are almost violently scrubbed with scouring cloths, and then his nails and hair are cut.
After the make-over the still effeminate guy gets a slap when he is about leave for saying ‘bye guys’ in his high pitch voice, and given a tip: ‘Thicken your voice!’
In an open letter to the United Arab Emirates government in Canada late last month detailing the continued persecution facing the gay and lesbian community in the Gulf emirate. In the letter, it said that UAE officials have used hormonal treatments in an effort to “cure” homosexuals.
The activist network Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transexual Rights UAE sent the open letter to Canada’s Prime Minister and Human Rights Minister as well as the United Nations and media outlets.
The group said that the situation in the UAE for the gay community depends on the specific autonomous emirate that one finds itself in, and the level of conservative Islamic law that is implemented.
It noted, however, that across the entire country, homosexual sex acts are prohibited under the federal government legislation.
Gay activist and Dubai resident Omar told Bikyamasr.com that “this is the only way to enable our rights as citizens because activism on the ground here will lead to our arrest and jailing. We struggle.”
The letter agrees, adding that despite the continued calls for greater human rights in the region by activists, the LGBT community remains on the sidelines and has little voice in the Arab world and the UAE specifically.
“The foundation for this internationally-recognized mandate begins with the belief that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’ Furthermore, the specific rights required for a society to be truly just and righteous are further defined as the ‘freedom of speech, freedom of belief, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.’ The group that wishes to publically express their concern with grievous breaches of this universally-recognized mandate is the Facebook group, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transexual Rights in the UAE,” the letter said.
It continued to argue that being gay is not a choice that people make and that governments must uphold the dignity and rights of all its citizens, calling on the international community to stand behind the LGBT community in the UAE and across the Middle East.
“On December 6th, 2011, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton pointed out a fact that has been confirmed by a vast majority of the international, scientific community: ‘Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality.’ She further articulated how “gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world,” the letter continued.
“They are all ages, all races, all faiths; they are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes; and whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends, and our neighbors.” The Universal Declaration that protects these friends and neighbors was ratified through a proclamation by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948 with a count of 48 votes to none. The world has come to a complete consensus on this issue; humans should not be prosecuted or punished for their intrinsic sexual natures.”
But in a country, and region, where the LGBT community continues to face hardship, arrest, harassment, imprisonment and even death, the UAE groups hope that more effort can be made to enable the community to live with full rights in their home countries.
“I hope that in the near future, we will look back on this period as a transition, much like the West did in the 1980s. I hope at least,” added Omar.
By Sharifa Ghanem