CONVENTIONAL UAE LGBT RULES PROBLEMATISE INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLERS’ NAVIGATION

The LGBT community comprises of a huge proportion of international travellers, waiting to explore places all over the world. Despite their desires, many are unable to dwell into the beauty of exotic tourist spots because of conservative homosexuality laws. One country where homosexuality is not just frowned upon but considered as a punishable offence is the UAE. Strict UAE LGBT rules make it the ninth worst place to visit as an LGBT traveller, according to Forbes.

Former records have repeatedly highlighted the Arab nation’s violent persecution of the LGBT community. As per UAE LGBT rules, any male wearing ‘female clothing’ could be subject to an yearlong imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,723. Harsh rules over cross dressing make LGBT travellers feel that their gender orientation is a crime in itself! This further challenges mental health of LGBT people, pushing over 50% of them towards depression.

References from famous travel bloggers assert that the illegality of homosexuality in the UAE put LGBT travellers at high risk of being arrested or deported if caught. Many LGBT expats live in the country while constantly trying to hide their identity and find little solace in the underground gay clubs. Under Article 80 of the Abu Dhabi Penal Code, sodomy is a punishable offence and could imply imprisonment of up to 14 years.

UAE LGBT rules are less strict for foreigners, but the country doesn’t shy from putting a gay traveller behind the bars if found showing any public display of affection. Travel bloggers advice LGBT travellers to use VPN’s if they wish to access gay dating apps, websites or even find UAE-based LGBT community to feel at home. Nevertheless, they should be extremely cautious as using VPN is also illegal in the anti-LGBT society.

Gay couples travelling to the UAE have often complained of feeling like they have ‘gone back into the closet’. For those who are still curious to explore the country, travel bloggers suggest booking a room with two single beds unless they are sure that their hotel welcomes LGBT travellers.

Even though it is difficult to find bars, lounges and restaurants that are open-minded, places that serve international clients are comparatively more welcoming. ‘Rush Disco’ in Ras Al Khaima is an underground hangout spot in Dubai where LGBT people can enjoy being their original self. However, they are still advised to remain vigilant of being exposed.

The UAE is often cited for committing serious human rights violations and wrongfully arresting, executing, torturing LGBT visitors. Ironically, gay celebrities like singer-actor Ricky Martin, have been seen performing concerts in the UAE without facing any legal challenges. Accounts like these raise serious questions if the country is biased towards influential and wealthy people.

It is when movies like ‘Sex and the City 2’ film an open-minded UAE, that people are not able to track the inhumane ground reality of UAE LGBT rules. Surely, tourists must not mistake the Arab country to be ‘Ibiza’!!

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