Reps. Maloney, Frank Condemn Gay-Bashing in United Arab Emirates
Last month, UAE officials reported the arrest of 26 men following a police raid on an apparent gay wedding in Abu Dhabi. A UAE representative, Colonel Najm al-Sayar, told Reuters that UAE citizens detained in the raid would be given hormone, “psychological and sociological” treatments. Later, the UAE Ministry of the Interior denied these reports, stating that the administration of hormone treatments would be “optional.” However, in their letter to UAE Ambassador Al Asri Al Dhahri, the Members of Congress replied that “agreeing to hormone treatment could be used as a bargaining tool to reduce the severity of an individual’s sentence, and if there is any truth to this, we believe this is in fact coercive and contrary to the standards of international law.”
“The UAE is building a 21st-century economy, but these actions are straight out of the dark ages,” said Maloney. “I urge the UAE to stop this persecution immediately.”
Reps. Sue Kelly (R-NY), James Leach (R-IA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chris Shays (R-CT), Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY) joined Maloney and Frank in warning the UAE’s leaders that “your government’s persecution of gay people will be repugnant to many of the world travelers you hope to attract as tourists, as well as to other governments and even corporations who believe that this kind of terrible intolerance against individuals based on their sexual orientation is unacceptable.”
A full copy of the letter follows.
December 19, 2005
His Excellency Al Asri Al Dhahri
Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
3522 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
We write to express strong agreement with our State Department's condemnation of the recent arrests of 26 gay Arab men during a police raid on a party at a hotel in Abu Dhabi.
We understand many of these men may face charges that could lead to jail sentences and public flogging, and that the Emirate men could also be given what your Ministry of Interior referred to in news reports as "optional" hormone treatment. There has been some suggestion that agreeing to hormone treatment could be used as a bargaining tool to reduce the severity of an individual's sentence, and if there is any truth to this, we believe this is in fact coercive and contrary to standards of international law.
We are also concerned that these arrests appear to be part of a broader, systematic crackdown on gay men in your country. In fact, just after these arrests, public statements by your minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs warning that "there will be no room for homosexual acts in the UAE" and calling on parents to be vigilant for "deviant" behavior in their children seem clearly intended to let gay people know not only that they are not welcome in your country, but also that animus against them will be a public policy priority.
We must tell you that this kind of state-led effort to seek out and persecute adult gay men who are doing no harm to anyone is not the kind of behavior we expect from an ally, and we urge you to stop it.
We believe it is not only wrong morally, it may also undermine your country's standing in the international community and its ongoing efforts to attract foreign investment and thrive as a Middle East hub for information, transportation and tourism. In fact, given that Dubai is one of the world's fastest-growing tourism destinations, which accounts for roughly 17% of your Gross Domestic Product, we hope you recognize that your government's persecution of gay people will be repugnant to many of the world travelers you hope to attract as tourists, as well as to other governments and even corporations who believe that this kind of terrible intolerance against individuals based on their sexual orientation is unacceptable.
REP. BARNEY FRANK, REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, REP. TOM LANTOS, REP. SUE W. KELLY, REP. JAMES A. LEACH, REP. GARY L. ACKERMAN, REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS
REP. CAROLYN B. MALONEY