Friday, 27 May 2011

In Dubai, fear stalks gay relationships

Dubai NewImage via Wikipedia
Source: Gay Middle East

By Dan Littauer and Sami Al Ali

The UAE newspaper The National reported 25 May that a man was accused today, in Dubai, of tying up his colleague and roommate, then stabbing him in the neck after accusing him of spreading rumours that he’s gay.

The Egyptian AM, 27, denied the charge of attempting to kill his compatriot MA, 37, when he appeared before the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance.

According to records, the two worked at a glass installation company and on the day of the incident, in December 2010, they returned to their apartment in International City for a midday break.

MA told prosecutors that he took a one-hour nap in the bedroom, and when he woke, he saw AM sitting on the bed holding a rope. He said AM convinced him that he wanted to play a game that included tying him up. He testified that AM tied his hands and legs, and wrapped the rope around his body.

"When I told him that my hands hurt, he answered that its better than your heart hurting you," said MA, who then untied himself and followed AM into the living room to ask him what he meant, records show.

AM then told him he heard MA was talking about him behind his back, telling people AM was gay. MA said he denied it, but AM grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed him in the neck while he was watching TV.

Records say AM stabbed him four more times, in the abdomen and face, shouting, "Die, die, die – you scandalized me, all of Egypt knows I'm gay."

MA said he got the knife away from AM, who bit him in the arm. Then MA went downstairs and told the security guard to call rescue workers and the police.

MA said AM followed him down and told him, "You shouldn't die – I am the one who should die."

A police officer testified that when he responded to the incident, he found MA lying bleeding at the entrance of the building and AM sitting next to him saying over and over, "I wish I was in your place."

The next hearing is on June 8.

Sami Al Ali, an LGBT activist in the Middle East commented on this incident as follows:
Perhaps it's not the first incident, and for sure will not be the last in the Arab world. The Egyptian guy's case in Dubai reveals the social fear of gay Arabs even while they are away from their countries, the fear of facing society, and even of accepting their sexual identity.

Most of the LGBT human rights organisations and activists focus their efforts and projects on facing the community and fighting for equal rights, conduct and implement workshops and studies about the homosexuality and gender identity.  While the Arabic LGBT community remain in the shadow of social and religious shame, hiding and living a double life under the fear of being discovered.

Perhaps the major challenge that the Arabic LGBT community face today is accepting and respecting their own identity, instead of hiding, repressing and or rejecting themselves which create in the end low self-respect and endless social and psychological problems.

Running away and traveling out of the country seems to be the perfect solution for all of this, while as we saw in the Egyptian incident in Dubai, traveling/escaping isn’t always the best solution, as long as fear, shame, guilt, frustration and anger prevails many social problems are created.

For this main reason, Arabic LGBT community need an active and effective LGBT support groups in order to help the local community members to accept and understand themselves, face their fears and respect their real identity. This will help create the right balance for LGBT people to face in their daily lives, local community and families in a positive way.  This can help avoid any aggressive and negative actions that manifested in this case.

Social change starts from understanding some of the problematic issues within the community, and work on changing them according to uniqueness of each local culture. It is no easy task at all to change some social and religious values used against sexualities from both within the Arab LGBT communities and the larger context of the Arab world. Change then must come first from within the LGBT community itself focusing on regional efforts and support that can enhance self-esteem and provide solutions to social/psychological problems. Such actions surely will enable such horrific violence and inexcusable crimes as described above, from taking place at all.
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