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Saturday, 7 January 2012

United Arab Emirates persecution of LGBT protested

A group called Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transexual Rights UAE has presented an open letter to representatives of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in London as well as to the Canadian PM and UNHCHR.

The letter details examples of the persecution of LGBT people in the UAE. It particularly targets the Emirates Psychological Association and says that "belief in God cannot be an excuse for oppressing and terrorizing citizens."

It reads:

This letter is being written, with permission, on behalf of a particular contingent of the Diaspora of Arab citizens throughout Canada and the world. These are an Arab populace who feel obligated to openly criticize the government of the United Arab Emirates for their unwillingness to protect the basic human rights of its citizens, as they are codified in Article One of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 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.

On February 11th, 2006, six men were arrested in the United Arab Emirates for being at an alleged gay wedding in Ghantout. These men were convicted under the United Arab Emirates’ laws that ban obscenity and homosexual activity. “Because they've put society at risk they will be given the necessary treatment, from male hormone injections to psychological therapies,” the Interior Ministry spokesman, Issam Azouri told the local media. This practice of imprisoning individuals and subjecting them to a medical procedure with no scientific basis, just for expressing their innate, human tendencies that are protected under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is an atrocity that demands the attention of all Arabs and other concerned citizens around the world.

The incident in Ghantout is not an isolated event in the recent political climate of the U.A.E. In May, 2008 the Khaleej Times daily quoted Dubai Police Chief, Dhahi Khalfan Tamim as saying, "Several men in women's dresses and make-up have been arrested from shopping malls and residential buildings.” Following the arrests of the six men in Ghantout and the negative reaction of the international community, particularly the U.S. State Department, the sentencing for this indigenous transsexual community has been kept out of the international media; however, the arrests continue, as do the punishments demanded under Article 354 of the Federal Penal Code that states, “Whoever commits rape on a female or sodomy with a male shall be punished by death.”  Under this law, consensual sex between male adults is a crime punishable by death. Sodomy is not the only activity deemed punishable. On September 8th, 2008, two women were arrested for making out on a beach in Dubai. They were imprisoned for thirty days and then deported. In 2009, a homosexual couple from Toronto, Rocky Sharma and Stephen Macleod, were detained for their obvious homosexual tendencies and eventually arrested and held in separate prisons for thirty-nine days for possession of Celebrex, an over-the-counter medication. The real reason for their detainment was their apparent sexuality.

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. 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 neighbours.” The Universal Declaration that protects these friends and neighbours 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.

On May 28th, 2003, The U.A.E. formed the Emirates Psychological Association, an organization vested with “facilitating exchange of scientific and intellectual output between the association and other organizations in the UAE.”  We can only hope this association holds the most promise for generating empathy for those being persecuted for their natural, sexual orientations, as it is the consensus of all psychological associations around the world that homosexuality is a natural human condition. If the U.A.E. wishes to be a credible part of this international scientific community, they must concede this point, regardless of personal religious convictions. Belief in God cannot be an excuse for oppressing and terrorizing citizens. The Diaspora of Arab citizens who are represented in this letter implore the Emirates Psychological Association to review the scholarly evidence on this matter and publicly express their opposition to Article 354 of the Federal Penal Code and all other U.A.E. laws that discriminate against those persecuted for their natural, sexual orientation.

The group, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transexual Rights in the UAE, wishes to thank all those particularly chosen by us to read this letter and we wish to ask all others that read this to offer their support by emailing the following individuals, government entities and associations to ask them to accept the fact that homosexuality should be a protected human right the world over, regardless of nationality or personal religious conviction.

The letter was sent to: Ambassador, H. E.  Mr. Mohamed Abdulla Al Ghafli at the Ottawa Embassy for the United Arab Emirates; Counsellor, Mr. Mohammed Saeed Al Kaabi at the Ottawa Embassy for the United Arab Emirates; the Cultural Attaché for Education, Mr. Ali Rashed Al Mazrouei at the Ottawa Embassy for the United Arab Emirates; the Canadian Human Rights Commission; Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper; the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations; Anjali Kapoor, Managing Editor, Digital, The Globe and Mail; Patti Tasko, Senior Supervising Editor at the Canadian Press head office in Toronto.
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