Weeks after an overhaul of social laws in the UAE, one that has been considered to create a more open environment for the expat community in the country, an online announcement of an international conference in Dubai is showing an even more progressive Dubai that is set to emerge in the near future.
I’m glad all the influencers going to/in Dubai are just choosing to ignore and can happily overlook the fact that LGBT+ people still face the death penalty for existing in Dubai— eoin (@finglasboy) December 30, 2020
On the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology's website, the International Research conference has announced that Dubai will be hosting the 2021 digital International Conference on Gender Identity and LGBT Rights next May, which is supposed to tackle a number of issues related to gender, identity, and sexual relationships including homosexuality and LGBTQ+ rights.
This announcement comes as a surprise, especially that UAE laws still label same-sex relationships as illegal, despite a halt on punishments carried out against LGBTQ+ people in the country.
Happy New Year to everyone in Dubai. Judging by their attitudes towards LGBT people, must be the year 1852 over there?— But the Very Next Dave (@PunLovinLad) December 31, 2020
Last week, several social media accounts posted photos that were allegedly shot in a number of Dubai clubs and concerts, showing PDA moments by two women, triggering questions on whether homosexual relationships have finally been allowed in the country or not.
Analysts also wondered whether the increasingly open Emirati policies over the last several years are ever going to include political freedoms, such as freedom of expression and freedom of the press, as these issues are still sparking international criticism against the UAE.
Last month, the UAE's neighbor rival, Qatar, had also committed to allowing pride flags to be shown in the country's football stadiums during the 2022 World Cup, in an unprecedented move that has for long been demanded by human rights organizations.
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