A global LGBTQ+ rights organization is sparking outrage online after announcing they will be holding its annual conference in the United Arab Emirates, one of the most homophobic countries in the world.
The International Conference on Gender Identity and LGBT Rights, which is organized by World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, will take place in May 2021 in Dubai, the city where a British man was jailed for three months in 2017 for public indecency after touching another man’s hip to avoid spilling a drink.
LGBTQ+ people are persecuted across the country under section 354, where same-sex relations is illegal for both men and women under section 354. Punishments can range from deportation, prison time, and even execution.
While the United Emirates has federal laws, each emirate (or territory) also has its own laws with various spectrums of interpretations and punishments — all of which continue to criminalize the queer community in some form or another.
In Dubai, article 177 states that consensual sex between two men or two women can be punished with up to 10 years in prison.
Furthermore, according to Equaldex, there are no anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ+ people in employment, housing, or customer service. Same-sex marriage is also banned in Dubai, while conversion therapy remains legal.
According to the organization, these conferences aim to “bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of gender identity and LGBT Rights. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Gender Identity and LGBT Rights.”
The International Conference on Gender Identity and LGBT Rights will also hold two other events this year, including May 2021 in Athens, Greece and October 2021 in Beijing, China.
It should be noted that while the United Emirates has seen light progress in its legal system so it's not entirely reliant on Sharia law, a religious code that inspires federal law in accordance to Islamic tradition.
However, while such actions to better protect women and girls, reform alcohol restrictions, and reexamine divorce and marriage laws, there has been no changes to laws that would protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination.