Dan Littauer, Editor GME, 16.3.2012
The United Arab Emirates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group has received reports that 30 people who are believed may be gay were arrested in private ‘after’ party last at 5am, last Friday (9 March) in the Shangri La Hotel, Dubai.
It was said the party was ambushed and all present were taken for questioning. Some of the men are reported to be from prominent Emirati families.
It is unclear at this point if the men are still in detention or have been freed, nor if any charges have been brought against them. UAE LGBT or Gay Middle East have not been able to verify the details and hotel staff were cagey when questioned about the incident by us.
The United Arab Emirates has strict federal laws regarding homosexuality and each emirate has their own specific laws. While the Emirate of Dubai has technically severe laws they are usually not strictly enforced.
‘It was a private party in a private hired space where people were behaving and not even engaging in any public display of affection, so I can’t imagine why they got arrested,’ said Adilah, a lesbian member of UAE LGBT to GME.
‘The CID [police] don’t just bust private parties, either someone ratted the party out or some hotels guests or staff complained about the noise in the middle of the night, I am just shocked that this happened!’ she protested.
‘We waited a few days,’ she continued, ‘to see if it would get a note in the press. It didn’t as the authorities knew it would create uproar. We only knew that they were kept in detention for a few days, but have no idea if they are still locked up.
‘Plus some of the boys are from prominent Emirati families, so something may have been arranged with the police and the press to silence this story, its very difficult to find out accurate details.’
‘My heart goes out to the boys, who must be feeling humiliated and in terror have sat or even still sitting in a cell. No one deserves to be incarcerated for being who they are, especially when it doesn’t hurt anyone around them.
‘This was a private party, one amongst hundreds if not thousands taking place in the UAE on a Friday night. If their names get out, the young men risk dire consequences and discrimination in their future careers , not to mention the lives of some of them are at risk if their families are conservatives, as it may lead to so called “honor killings”.’
Abdulla the chair of UAE LGBT told GME: ‘As an activist This is disheartening, the government’s actions towards our community are horrid and deplorable especially at a time where the public has expressed willingness to engage in a debate about the issues our community faces, just for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender!’