Was Oman's Late Sultan the 'Only Gay Monarch' in the World and Why Do People Care?

Published January 12th, 2020 - 07:03 GMT
Was Oman's Late Sultan the 'Only Gay Monarch' in the World?
The Sultan's brief childless marriage inspired rumors regarding his sexual orientation. (Twitter)

Although Sultan Qaboos' sexuality has been open to question for decades, the recent death of the 79-year-old Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said on Friday night has re-ignited a conversation surrounding his life. 

Ruling Oman since 1970, Sultan Qaboos' sexual identity has been has often been the subject of speculation, mainly because the Sultan had only one short childless marriage to his first cousin Nawal Bint Tariq. 

Over the last 40 years, rumors claimed that the Sultan was leading an openly gay life, without coming out publicly. Although never confirmed or supported by proof, details about Qaboos' affairs with several men have often been discussed online.

Even though many online commentators describe the Omani Sultan's sexual identity as an 'open secret', homosexuality remains illegal in the conservative gulf Sultanate and is punishable by law.  

On the other hand, several Twitter users explained that existing Omani laws against the LGBTQ community have been rarely applied, clarifying that their experiences in Oman showed them a fairly progressive and tolerant country. 

Some activists argued that the Sultan's sexuality should have pushed him to come out publicly, as his wealth and political power could have helped efforts to decriminalize homosexual relationships in the Middle East. 

Graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1962, Qaboos joined the British Army and served in Germany for one year.

Upon his return to Oman, he led a British-backed successful coup against his father, citing plans to modernize the county using its oil revenue. In 1970, Qaboos' father, Said bin Taimur, was sent to exile in England where he died a few years later.

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