Middle East


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No Place For Gays in Yemen

| February 15th, 2015 | Comments Off

A report from 2013 describes the situation for LGBT citizens in Yemen. Since that time little has changed for gay people in this war-torn country where Houthi rebels have taken over the government in 2014-15. Life for homosexuals is dangerous and deadly ; virtually no one reveals his sexual preference in public.   By Shuaib Almosawa Aug 16 2013 (IPS) – As he gets ready to go to a café in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, Husam tucks his long tresses inside a hood before getting into the back of his friend’s car. “Still problematic,” his friend tells him, assessing him in the rear view mirror. Husam pushes his hair further inside. A short drive ahead, they stop at a checkpoint, one of the many that keep an eye on Sana’a’s heavy traffic. A soldier grabs a torch, shines it on Husam. His long lashes blink in the harsh light. Husam, now

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Lesbian and Gay Life in Beirut, Lebanon

| September 25th, 2014 | Comments Off

By Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com Updated 15, 2014 Stories, Photos, News & Reports for Gay Lebanon In contrast to a New York Times story on party-time gay males in Beirut, Lebanon, a more realistic portrait of Lebanese LGBT life is portrayed in a 2009 book Bareed Mista3jl (not misspelled) published by Meem (2009). A GlobalGayz blog post reacted to the Times story regarding the narrow middle/upper class male perspective described by the Times’ author. A closer investigation of the real lives of gay Lebanese is lacking in the story. That said, the furtive lesbian population is not easily accessed by a foreign journalist who visits on a short trip. Unless there are deep and trusted connections, Muslim lesbians do not offer up their lives for examination. Even the women who compiled the stories and edited the book did not at first have an easy time finding willing women to share their

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Gay in Syria During a War

| January 5th, 2014 | Comments Off

The revolution in Syria has put thousands of gay people at high risk of torture and death from all fighting sides–Islamist extremists, Assad loyalists and opposition rebels. It is currently one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a LGBT person. There is no mercy from any of these warring parties. The only escape is to another country or to hide by joining one of the fighting force to protect one’s family and self–and risk killing other gays who are arrested or suspected.   The following report was filed by Haley Bobseine, Head of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project Middle East program in Beirut who urges more attention to LGBT refugees at risk. Being Gay In Syria Today December 9, 2013 When Syrian rebels took Racca last March, one would have thought that the capture of this northern city that was previously controlled by the regime of

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Gay Life in Syria: an Interview with a Gay ‘Refugee’

| April 23rd, 2012 | Comments Off

  Introduction The Middle East in the 21st century is a boiling cauldron of political and social change. Rebellions and revolutions have taken down long ruling dictators and corrupt governments. But the transition to Arab democracy is fraught with conflicting issues, mainly how to define and integrate the new democracy with the deep influence of Islam in the various cultures. In this swirling flow of human events, homosexual individuals are not sure where they will land, on their feet with tolerance or further marginalized to the fringes of society. One gay man’s response has been to abandon his native Syria and its current upheaval state and live in Turkey where he finds support from the LGBT community but still leaves him a man without a country. GlobalGayz interviewed him in Istanbul in April 2012. Adad the Man: in Search of a Home Adad is a gay Syrian man, 34 years

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Gay Life in Yemen: One Man’s Story of Destiny and Choice

| February 15th, 2012 | Comments Off

Introduction: The following story was sent to GlobalGayz by a thoughtful Yemeni gay man who was willing to share his observations and feelings about gay life in his country.   Also see: Gay Life in Yemen Update: February 2015 Despite the current turmoil in which the rebel Houthi militia have taken control of the Yemeni government, the young gay student, quoted here, said he and his family are all right. But he is seriously considering emigrating to a country “where life is livable”.   By Ahmed “Most of the time, I can’t be myself or talk about myself to anyone.” This story is not a cheerful one for a gay person but the writer seems to be strong and wise and able to manage some satisfaction in his daily living, thanks in no small part to LGBT friends he has found online. His personal and cultural observations are valuable for others

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Syria Country Photos

| February 10th, 2012 | Comments Off
Syria - three women  farhorizons

Syria in 2011-12 is in upheaval, rebellion and civil war with hundreds of thousands of ‘rebels’ battling against government military forces to end the dictatorial repressive regime of the ruling Assad family. The land itself is beautiful with historic Roman ruins and peaceful valleys. In the market souks of Aleppo and villages life continues as it has for hundreds of years.  

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Lebanon Country Photos

| February 2nd, 2012 | Comments Off

Lebanon is known for its unique efforts in the Middle East to guarantee civil rights and freedom to its citizens, ranking first in the Middle East and 26th worldwide (out of 66 countries) in the The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2011. Due to its tightly regulated financial system and the highest gold reserve in the Middle East, Lebanese banks largely avoided the financial crisis of 2007–2010. In 2009, despite a global recession, Lebanon enjoyed 9% economic growth and hosted the largest number of tourists in its history. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanon)  

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Bahrain Country Photos

| January 31st, 2012 | Comments Off
Bahrain-financial-trouble-behind-calm-facade photo: telegraph.co

Bahrain has a reputation as a relatively liberal and modern Persian Gulf. The government  has encouraged tourism development which is a significant source of income. Despite a recent period of political liberalization including some changes in the criminal code, in 2011 during the ‘Arab Spring’ major protests against government policies led to massive street protests. The law is silent on private, non-commercial sexual acts between consenting adults. The law therefore allows homosexuality and it is not criminalized in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Traditional religious mores view homosexuality and cross-dressing as signs of immorality, which may impact how the legal system deals with LGBT-rights. Law enforcement agents and the courts have broad discretionary powers to issue fines and or jail time for any activities deemed to be in violation of traditional morality.  

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Kuwait Country Photos

| January 30th, 2012 | Comments Off
Kuwait city students (photo-nildayjeffrey)

Kuwait is a constitutional emirate with a parliamentary system of government, with Kuwait City serving as the country’s political and economic capital. The country has the world’s fifth largest oil reserves. It is the eleventh richest country in the world per capita. In 2007, it had the highest human development index (HDI) in the Arab world. Despite its wealth and high standard of education, living openly as a homosexual carries dire consequences. In recent years, Kuwait has become more aware about homosexuality. The subject has been addressed more than once on television. Preachers condemn it as a big sin.  

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Saudi Arabia Country Photos

| January 29th, 2012 | Comments Off

Saudi Arabia is a complex, mysterious, fundamentalist country with much wealth from vast oil fields. It boasts the most modern standards for the middle and upper classes. However the form of Islam practiced there is backward and repressive that does not allow much personal freedom of expression, especially for women. Salafism, also known as Wahabbism is a fiercely puritanical strain of Islam that gained prominence with the rulers of the Arabian peninsula. When the modern kingdom was established, Salafism became the only brand of Islam espoused by the government. Under the strict legal system gay people live with danger of imprisonment or execution if caught with a same-sex partner, even in the privacy of a home.      

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Gay Arabs: It Gets Better–From an Arab Teen

| January 28th, 2012 | Comments Off

By Moussa Dailyvoiceofreason.com 13 Jan 2012 This is an article by Moussa, a Lebanese young man of 19 who speaks from his own experience of coming out and how life gets much better once we own our sexuality and accept one another. The world we live in can seem like an absolutely terrible place. Worse yet, a part of it, which includes everything you do and everyone you know, seems to be even worse. Despite this, and despite the fact that I don’t know your name, haven’t seen your face, and don’t know more about you, I can say with confidence that it gets better. I noticed that I was gay as a young child around the age of 7. Being brought up in Lebanon, I was in a society that wasn’t accepting and quite frankly, I didn’t know exactly what I was. Years went by and when I hit

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UAE/Dubai Country Photos (photos)

| January 17th, 2012 | Comments Off
Dubai - locals at ski house photo credit-telegraph.co

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf. The seven states, termed emirates, are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Dubai is the most well known due to its progressive financial policies and daring architecture. There are harsh and discriminatory laws that condemn homosexuality and promote homophobia in the name of religion. A native or foreigner must consider the risks of being out or obvious..  

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Palestine Photo Gallery (photos)

| January 15th, 2012 | Comments Off

Palestine is both a historic settled culture and a territory in transition and conflict. Situated at a strategic location between Egypt, Syria and Arabia, and the birthplace of the Judaism and Christianity, the region has a long and tumultuous history as a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. The region has been controlled by numerous different peoples, including Ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Ancient Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Sunni Arab Caliphate, the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mameluks, Ottomans, the British and modern Israelis and Palestinians. Modern archaeologists and historians of the region refer to their field of study as Syro-Palestinian archaeology. (Wikipedia)    

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Qatar Country Photos (photos)

| January 14th, 2012 | Comments Off
photo credit: habayinow.wordpress.com

Qatar has been ruled as an absolute monarchy by the Al Thani family since the mid-19th century. Formerly a British protectorate noted mainly for pearling, it became independent in 1971, and has become one of the region\’s wealthiest states due to its enormous oil and natural gas revenues. In 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became Emir when he seized power from his father, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, in a peaceful coup d\’état.  The most important positions in Qatar are held by the members of the Al Thani family, or close confidants of the al-Thani family. Beginning in 1992, Qatar has built intimate military ties with the United States, and is now the location of U.S. Central Command’s Forward Headquarters and the Combined Air Operations Center. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar)      

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Gay Life in Qatar

| January 14th, 2012 | Comments Off

By Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com January 2012 Photos, News & Reports for Gay Qatar Much like other small Gulf States in the Arabian peninsula finding recent and in-depth stories about gay life is not easy. The biggest public kerfluffle about homosexuality in Qatar in recent years has not concerned any gay executions, witch hunts, persecution or demands for gay marriage. Rather, in December 2010 the football/soccer World Cup association (FIFA) awarded to Qatar the playoffs in 2022. Completely overlooking the social impact of such a huge international event in such a tiny Islamic place as Qatar FIFA got itself into hot water from human rights organizations as well as gay rights associations. The disruptive issue was homosexuality. Thousands of football fans are LGBT –many from the ‘liberal’ West– will enter Qatar for the game finals. Very few are prepared to suddenly surrender their sexual identity and stop being gay for a

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Oman Country Photos (photos)

| January 12th, 2012 | Comments Off

Oman is a quiet prosperous, modern and progressive Arab sultanate where life has settled into a quiet place in the Middle East. Little is heard of it in the modern world except as a peaceful land of rugged beauty and friendly people. It is ruled by a benevolent Sultan who since his reign began in 1970 has brought the country into the modern era with increased education, health care, business enterprise a moderate form of Islam, which quietly tolerates a closeted gay community. Prior to 1975 the country was distressed with internal tribal warfare. In the 18th century the Omani Sultanate territories stretched all the way from Pakistan to Tanzania.    

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Gay Life in Oman

| January 11th, 2012 | Comments Off

By Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com Updated January 2015 Photos, News & Reports for Gay Oman Information and insight about LGBT life in Oman is neither plentiful nor scarce. GlobalGayz has not yet been to Oman so we have been researching the internet for some inside ideas and experiences. What is noticeable is that the lengthier commentaries posted online come from expats who live or have lived in Oman for several years. This is understandable since few Omani LGBT people–none really–are willing to be public about their love life or gender of desire. Expats, on the other hand, risk little in disclosing their sexual identity since the West is far more accepting of ‘lifestyle variations’. The worst that can happen is to be deported from Oman, unless a crime has been committed. Two important observations can be made about being homosexual in Oman. One is that homosexuality is forbidden with potential imprisonment

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Yemen Country Photos (photos)

| January 8th, 2012 | Comments Off

Yemen has a land area of 555,000 square kilometers and a population of approximately 24 million (2010). Its capital and largest city is Sana’a. Yemen’s territory includes over 200 islands, the largest of which is Socotra, about 415 km to the south of mainland Yemen, off the coast of Somalia. It is the only state in the Arabian Peninsula to have a purely republican form of government. Homosexuality is illegal and the official laws are severe. But there is an underground LGBT community which keeps silent and hidden, especially since February and March 2011: an uprising against the government began, and clashes with police and pro-government supporters have steadily intensified. Many people have been killed in trying to oust President Saleh from his 32-year rule.

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Gay Life in Yemen

| January 5th, 2012 | Comments Off

Introduction: It’s difficult to write an informed and useful report about something unseen and unheard. In Yemen, homosexuality is both because no one is willing to speak or write about it in public or in the media, despite the inevitable presence of a gay underground that is kept well hidden from the scrutiny of the morality thugs and violent authorities. Also see: A Gay Yemeni–One Man’s Story of Life and Destiny Photos, News & Reports for Gay Yemen   Finding Gay Life is a Challenge In more than a decade of recording thousands of news and reports about LGBT life around the world, GlobalGayz has only found eight reports about homosexuality in Yemen. Five of these eight are responses (four against, one in favor) to the single issue of gay marriage. Two other stories tell about journalists being arrested for writing about homosexuality and a magazine being shut down for

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Gay Life in UAE (United Arab Republic)

| January 3rd, 2012 | Comments Off
Dubai Burj tower

Introduction Very little LGBT news comes out of the Emirates gulf states because it is such a closeted culture, but the recent removal of an anti-gay video from YouTube, made in the United Arab Emirates, has evoked some dialogue around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Emirates. In this report, Dan Littauer  of Gay Middle East, interviews two gay men from the Emirates about their public and private experiences and feelings as they seek a “Gay Life in UAE”. This is followed by another story ‘Detained in Dubai’ that was written in 2010 by an unnamed author using detainedindubai.org as their identity. The purpose of the report is to warn gay visitors of the risks of being caught by police for illegal behavior: “enjoying the underground scene doesn’t come without serious risks. There have been a few widespread reports regarding the condemnation and punishment of homosexual behavior in

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Gay Israel Stories 2006-12

| January 1st, 2012 | Comments Off

By way of introduction to this version of gay Israel the story starts with a commentary on WorldPride held in Jerusalem August 2006 during the war with Hezbollah. It speaks to the difficulties that the Pride hosts encountered and the layers of conflict that seem indelible in Israeli culture today. This story goes beyond WorldPride and is lengthy. In order to make it more accessible it is divided into six parts: (Part 1) Jerusalem WorldPride 2006 (Part 2) Gay Israel: Beyond WorldPride 2006 (Part 3) Aguda in Tel Aviv: Saving Lives (Part 4) Private Lives: The Men and the Boys (Part 5) Gay Jerusalem Scene (Part 6) Gay Rights in Israel Also see: Gay Israel Gay Israel Stories Gay Israel News & Reports 2000 to present Gay Israel Photo Galleries (Part 1) Jerusalem WorldPride 2006 -Six Hurdles to Overcome -WorldPride Review It appears the cards were stacked against WorldPride 2006

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Coming Out: A Gay Kuwaiti’s Experience

| December 28th, 2011 | Comments Off

Introduction by Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com Photos, News & Reports for Gay Kuwait Cultural changes come about very slowly for gays in the Muslim Middle East. This story appeared several years ago in the Kuwait News; it is an unusual story since homosexuality is rarely discussed publicly, let alone published in a newspaper. (However this is an English language paper so relatively few locals would see it.) Not much has changed since this story posted in 2007. The vast majority of gay-oriented citizens follow society’s rules and get married, others find excuses not to marry (business, religion) and a lucky few find their way to the West where they can live more freely. But most only ever come out to a trusted friend or friends. Here, Bader, a young gay man bravely talks to journalist Hussain Al-Qatari in private about his life and feelings about being gay in modern Kuwait. by

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Lebanese Lesbian Speaks Out

| December 6th, 2011 | Comments Off

Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com August 15, 2009 Regarding the point made in the previous blog post about the New York Times story on party-time gay males in Lebanon, a more realistic portrait of gay Lebanon was drawn by a lesbian in the book ‘Bareed Mistas3jil’ published by Meem . (2009; P43) I think this worried description (below) is what a close investigation of the inside lives of most LGBT Lebanese would discover. Unfortunately this furtive lesbian population is difficult to access by a foreign journalist who visits Lebanon – or any country – on a short visit. Unless there are deep and trusted connections, Muslim gays – especially lesbians – do not offer their lives for examination. Even the women who complied the stories and edited the book did not at first have an easy time finding willing people to share their stories. It took three years to finish the project,

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Beirut the Provincetown of the Middle East? Hardly.

| December 6th, 2011 | Comments Off

Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com August 5, 2009 Stories, Photos, News & Reports for Gay Lebanon This is a rebuttal to the New York Times story about gay Beirut published Sunday August 2, 2009 entitled ‘Provincetown of the Middle East’. Regarding Patrick Healy’s long story about Beirut being the Provincetown of the Middle East, I was impressed by the three-full-page spread in a travel section of only 12 pages. But I was not impressed by the misleading impression he offered of Beirut being a ‘gay oasis’. True, there are some gay-friendly bars and discos scattered in and around the city where people can let their hair down but that is a far cry from the pervasive gay life that infuses Provincetown. Healy’s theme story is about a BearArabia party–half an hour drive from Beirut. But this verbal portrait is a distance from the truth. “Inching out” is far more an apt description

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On Bahrain, Freedom, Revolution and LGBT Rights

| April 4th, 2011 | Comments Off

An Interview with Jasmin – a Shi’a and Gay Man An extended and updated version of an interview done on GayCityNews by Dan Littauer Gay Middle East.com Editor April 4, 2011 As the tiny Persian Gulf archipelago kingdom of Bahrain enters its second month of widespread protests — with clashes on March 13 resulting in more than 1,000 being hospitalized and news that the government has brought in troops from neighbouring Saudi Arabia — a young gay Bahraini blogger offers insight into the sources of discontent there as well as alternative visions the demonstrators harbor. In a series of email exchanges, Jasim (not his real name), a 24-year-old man who identifies as both Shi’a and gay, reflected on the economic inequalities at the root of Bahraini discontent — conditions that, fuelled as well by the events in Tunisia and Egypt, have overwhelmed the traditional ruling elites’ effort to divide the

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