Sexual diversity

Articles about LGBT Arabs

A collection of articles about gay and lesbian Arabs, and their struggles. A list of general articles is followed by articles relating to individual countries.


General articles

Everything you need to know about being gay in Muslim countries
The Guardian, 21 June 2016
The official fiction, Brian Whitaker explains, is that gay people don’t exist in the Middle East. They do – and for many of them, the attitudes of family and society are a much bigger problem than the fear of being prosecuted

The unholy alliance 
Muslim countries join forces with America's religious right. al-bab, 22 May 2016

The US media’s damaging assumptions about LGBT issues in the Middle East 
By Dominic Bocci. Muftah, 15 December 2014

Middle East moving backwards on gay rights? 
Poll shows region lagging behind most of the world. al-bab, 14 June 2013 

Sex and the Arab Spring 
Can demands for freedom and dignity reach beyond politics? al-bab, 13 March 2013 

The ongoing battle for gay rights in the Arab world 
By Brian Whitaker, Foreign Policy, 12 March 2012

Slow Thaw for Gays in Arab World 
There is more awareness now that gay Arabs do exist and that the challenges posed by sexual nonconformity won't go away. By Brian Whitaker, Haaretz, 2 March 2012

Gay rights and the Arab Spring
al-bab, 25 February 2012

Gay rights and human rights 
al-bab, 18 December 2011

Arab winds of change 
Who is driving real change in the Arab countries? Not politicians, but feminists, gay people and bloggers. By Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, 22 October 2009

What in the World? 
Though things may seem peachy for gay people in the UK, what is the state of play in the rest of the world? Gay Times, April 2009 

Pink Planet 
Brian Whitaker reports on the new global upsurge in pink politics, from China and Iraq to South America. New Statesman, July 19, 2007

Distorting desire  
Review of 'Desiring Arabs' by Joseph Massad (University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Righting wrongs  
The Yogyakarta Principles are a victory for gay rights. The question now is what the UN will do about the document. Comment Is Free, March 29, 2007 

Coming out in Arabic: Islam, human rights, and gay rights 
Talk given at the Centre on Human Rights and Conflict. University of East London, 21 March 2007

In Arabian nights 
Review of the book, 'Sexuality in the Arab World'.  New Statesman, November 20 2006

Government disorientation
Does government repression of homosexuality in the Middle East stem from outdated ideas about the role of the state? (Guardian Unlimited, 29 April 2003).

Distorting desire  
'Desiring Arabs' by Joseph Massad (University of Chicago Press, 2007). Reviewed by Brian Whitaker

Arab sexualities 
'Desiring Arabs' by Joseph Massad (University of Chicago Press, 2007). Reviewed by Peter Drucker. Alternative site.

Unspeakable love  
Homosexuality in the Middle East and the gay Palestinians who have taken refuge in Israel. Jewish Quarterly 202, Summer 2006

Behind the veil: Lesbian lives in the Middle East 
Lesbians in the Middle East lead a dangerous existence. (Alternative version here.) Diva magazine, July 2006

'People think it's a mental illness' 
In the Middle East, coming out as a homosexual is often unthinkable. Brian Whitaker talks to young gay and lesbian Arabs about their secret private lives. Guardian, June 13, 2006

Sickness or sin? Attitudes towards homosexuality in the Middle East
Text of a talk by Brian Whitaker. Lebanese Psychological Association, Beirut, 26 May 2006

Sex crimes 
The evolution of Middle Eastern homophobia. New Humanist magazine, May 2006

Brokeback desert  
It is a pity Brokeback Mountain isn't showing in the Arab world, because it resembles current reality there. Comment Is Free, March 21 2006

Fundamental union 
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a controversial Islamic scholar who approves of wife-beating and believes in traditional family values. The Mormon church, having abandoned polygamy more than a century ago, believes in traditional families too. The Guardian, January 25 2005


Algeria

Gay & lesbian mobilization in Algeria: the emergence of a movement 
By Sarah Jean-Jacques. Muftah, 15 December 2014


Bahrain

Homophobia and nationalism 
'Too gay to represent Bahrain'. al-bab, 16 December 2014, via Muftah

Jail sentences over gay party 
al-bab, 8 March 2011


Egypt 

Somewhere over the rainbow there are police ready to pounce
Brian Whitaker, al-bab, 26 September 2017

On homosexuality: six Egyptian men reveal what it's like to be gay in Egypt
Maryam Raymone, Cairo Scene, 18 March 2016

Egyptian fury over Facebook rainbow 
Actor Khaled Abol Naga pilloried on TV. al-bab, 9 July 2015 

Remembering the Queen Boat, fourteen years after 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 12 May 2015

Meet this policeman. He is going to arrest you 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 24 September 2015

Entrapped! How to use a phone app to destroy a life 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 19 September 2015

Tweet for Egypt on IDAHOT: Why it’s important 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 17 May 2015

Deport me! 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 18 April 2015

New arrests of alleged trans and gay people in Cairo 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 1 March 2015

One of Mona Iraqi’s victims tries to burn himself to death 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 16 February 2015

After Mona Iraqi: Some Egyptian voices 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 21 January 2015

Why the crackdown in Egypt isn’t over, and what to do about it 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 19 January 2015

Egypt: 26 acquitted of homosexual conduct 
Prosecutor should drop appeal. Human Rights Watch, 13 January 2015 

Victory 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 12 January 2015

Film festival fires Mona Iraqi 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 23 December 2014

Day one of the trial: What Mona Iraqi accomplished 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 21 December 2014

homophobia 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 20 December 2014

What’s missing from the LGBT discussion in Egypt? 
By Sandra Fernandez & Layla Aziz. Muftah, 15 December 2014

Activists condemn Mona Iraqi’s raid 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 13 December 2014

If homosexuality isn’t illegal, why is there a gay crackdown in Egypt? 
A bath house raid instigated by complicit media looks like a bid to distract attention from bigger economic and political issues. By Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, 10 December 2014

Dozens arrested for “perversion” in a huge raid in Cairo 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 8 December 2014

Two trials, two travesties 
By Scott Long, A Paper Bird, 1 November 2014

Egypt: 7 held for alleged homosexual conduct 
Unlawful arrests undermine basic freedoms, rule of law. Human Rights Watch, 9 September 2014 

Egypt's 'homosexuality' arrests 
Gay websites spread confusion. al-bab, 21 October 2013

'Gay party' raided in Egypt 
al-bab, 1 November 2012

Egypt blocks discussion of gay sexual health at World Health Organisation 
Need to respect "religious, cultural, moral, and social values". al-bab, 1 June 2012

A gay day for Egypt? 
al-bab, 17 November 2011

A gay ad for Coca-Cola in Egypt? 
al-bab, 28 August 2010

Why Elton John is considered a danger to Egypt 
A move to ban Elton's gig is about fear of social discord. Yet in other ways the Arab world fails to address 'the public good'. Comment Is Free, 4 May 2010

Elton John faces Egyptian ban 
al-bab, 2 May 2010

A tale of two parties  
While 69 revelling Filipinos face prison and flogging in Saudi Arabia, wealthy British expatriates are left to party in peace. Comment Is Free, 25 Jun 2009

A night out in Riyadh  
More than 70 men have been arrested in the Saudi capital for being in an 'unnatural state' and wearing women's clothing. Comment Is Free, 22 Jun 2009

A glimpse behind the screen 
A novel about a gay newspaper editor was a hit in Egypt - but its movie release has caused a stir. Comment Is Free, July 8, 2006

Call to censor 'immoral' Egyptian film 
The Yacoubian Building has broken box office records but many oppose its portrayal of modern Egypt. The Guardian, July 6, 2006

In a time of torture
"The assault on justice in Egypt's crackdown on homosexual conduct." Report by Human Rights Watch, March 2004. Also inArabic.

Highway to hell  
There's no accounting for taste, but if you want to wear a black t-shirt and listen to heavy metal music, is it the government's business to stop you? If you get a piercing or a tattoo, or dance like Michael Jackson, is the fabric of society going to be ... The Guardian, June 2 2003

Government disorientation 
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is probably the most important document ever issued by the United Nations. It spells out in clear and uncompromising language "the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family". The Guardian, April 29 2003

One Man's Tale  
A gay activist in Egypt describes the nightmare of the government's crackdown on homosexuality. By Josh Hammer (Newsweek, 16 June, 2002).

Homosexuality on trial in Egypt 
In 1800, a European traveller to Egypt wrote: "The inconceivable inclination which has dishonoured the Greeks and Persians of antiquity constitutes the delight, or, more properly speaking the infamy of the Egyptians ... the contagion has seized the poor as well as the rich." The Guardian, November 19 2001

Explaining Egypt's targeting of gays  
By Hossam Bahgat (MERIP, 31 July, 2001)


Iraq 

Iraq: Investigate ‘emo’ attacks 
Official impunity enables violent intimidation campaign. Human Rights Watch, 16 March 2012 

Pride and prejudice: The targeting of gay men in Iraq 
Near East Quarterly, December 2010

Iraqi police raid gay 'safe house' 
al-bab, 20 June 2010

Iraq's new surge: gay killings 
Human Rights Watch, 9 September 2009

Anti-gay gangs terrorize Iraq  
Militias are targeting gay men in a killing campaign, ignored by police and prosecutors, that belies promises of security. Human Rights Watch, 19 August 2009 

"They Want Us Exterminated" 
Murder, torture, sexual orientation and gender in Iraq. Human Rights Watch, 17 August 2009 

Iraq: Are you man enough? 
al-bab, 17 August 2009

Axis of Evil 
Haider Jaber thought life as a gay man was harsh under Saddam Hussein. Then came the invasion. And the aftermath. (GT magazine, March 2007.)

Gays flee Iraq as Shia death squads find a new target 
Observer, 6 August 2006

Iraqi police 'killed 14-year-old boy for being homosexual' 
Independent, 5 May 2006

Gay Iraqis fear for their lives 
BBC, 17 April 2006

Iraq: Stop killings for homosexual conduct 
No protection by authorities from widening murder campaign. Human Rights Watch, 6 April 2005

Gay and Iraqi 
A double life under Saddam Hussein (outuk.com, 2002)


Jordan

Mashrou' Leila: Jordan lifts ban on Lebanese band with gay singer 
BBC, 29 April 2016

Fury in Amman after unconformist Mashrou' Leila banned 
Albawaba, 27 April 2016

Mashrou' Leila: Jordan bans Lebanese rock band with gay singer 
BBC, 27 April 2016


Kuwait 

Kuwait deports 76 gay men in crackdown
Gulf News, 7 August 2017

22 parlours sealed, 76 gays deported in nationwide raids
Arab Times, 6 August 2017

Being transgender in Kuwait: “My biggest fear is a flat tyre” 
Human Rights Watch, 15 July 2013

“They Hunt Us Down for Fun” 
Discrimination and police violence against transgender women in Kuwait. Human Rights Watch, 15 January 2012 

Kuwait: End police abuses against transgender women 
Law against ‘imitating the opposite sex’ leads to torture, arbitrary arrests. Human Rights Watch, 15 January 2012 

Boys will be boys - or else  
Kuwaitis who defy very narrowly defined gender stereotypes now face prison or a hefty fine. Comment Is Free, January 23, 2008

Kuwait: Repressive dress-code law encourages police abuse 
Arrests target transgender people. Human Rights Watch, 16 January 2008 


Lebanon 

Mashrou' Leila: Jordan lifts ban on Lebanese band with gay singer 
BBC, 29 April 2016

Fury in Amman after unconformist Mashrou' Leila banned 
Albawaba, 27 April 2016

Mashrou' Leila: Jordan bans Lebanese rock band with gay singer 
BBC, 27 April 2016

Sex and the Lebanese 
Survey finds contradictory attitudes. al-bab, 10 January 2016 

The fight goes on for Lebanon's LGBT community
By Sophie Chamas. Al-Monitor, 15 June 2015

Lebanon just did a whole lot more than legalize being gay 
By Erin Kilbride. Muftah, 15 December 2014

LGBTQ rights in Lebanon: an interview with Georges Azzi 
By Dominic Bocci. Muftah, 15 December 2014

Sexualizing & villainizing male Syrian refugees in Lebanon 
By Adriana Qubaia & Mathew Gagné. Muftah, 15 December 2014

Lebanese gay rights organization Helem marks 10 years with a mixed legacy 
By Chloé Benoist, Al-Akhbar, 30 September 2014

Lebanon: Call for action against 'gay test' doctor 
Accusations of professional misconduct. al-bab, 17 July 2014 

LGBT milestone in Lebanon 
Psychiatrists say homosexuality is not an illness. al-bab, 12 July 2013 

Arrested in Lebanon 
"He made me take off all my clothes and told me I’m a faggot". al-bab, 27 June 2013

Lebanon: Police torturing vulnerable people 
Need effective redress, oversight, complaints mechanism. Human Rights Watch, 26 June 2013 

Gay marriage, Lebanese style 
al-bab, 20 January 2013

Lebanon: Stop ‘tests of shame’ 
Authorities order anal examinations on men charged with homosexuality. Human Rights Watch, 10 August 2012 

Resisting homophobia in Lebanon 
al-bab, 11 May 2010

Randa's story 
al-bab, 4 April 2010

Homosexuality a disease, say doctors 
al-bab, 18 February 2010

The Gay Electronic Intifada of Lebanon 
by Rita El-Haddad. Monthly Review, 27 August 2009

Beirut breakthrough 
A report on Helem, the Lebanese LGBT organisation.  Gay Times, December 2008

Group lobbies for basic rights  
Article about the campaigning organisation Hurriyat Khassa ("Private freedoms"). By May Farah (Daily Star, 12 June 2004)

Highway to hell  
There's no accounting for taste, but if you want to wear a black t-shirt and listen to heavy metal music, is it the government's business to stop you? If you get a piercing or a tattoo, or dance like Michael Jackson, is the fabric of society going to be ... The Guardian, June 2 2003

GayLebanon.com: a miscarriage of justice? 
A human rights activist and an internet portal owner were found guilty of insulting the vice squad, yet no evidence was produced. By Warren Singh-Bartlett (Daily Star, 16 March, 2001)


Libya

Libya: release of 'gay partygoers' delayed 
al-bab, 29 November 2012

Libya 'gay partygoers not to be killed' 
al-bab, 28 November 2012


Morocco 

Morocco: Victims of attack jailed for “homosexual acts” 
Attackers who filmed home invasion also charged. Human Rights Watch, 8 April 2016 

Morocco: Homophobic response to mob attack 
Justice minister implies victim shares blame. Human Rights Watch, 15 July 2015

Morocco: Two sentenced on homosexuality charge 
Prosecuted despite constitutional right to private life. Human Rights Watch, 4 March 2015 

Morocco: Homosexuality convictions upheld 
Appeals court applies law criminalising same-sex activities. Human Rights Watch, 8 July 2014 

New call to ban Elton John 
al-bab, 12 May 2010

First Moroccan gay magazine 
al-bab, 21 April 2010

Interview with Abdellah Taia  
The Moroccan writer talks about his book, Salvation Army. al-bab, 15 April 2009

Morocco bound 
Two sides of gay life in Morocco. Gay Times, March 2008

Party time  
Revellers at a get-together in Morocco have ended up in jail after a wave of moral panic and accusations of staging a gay wedding. Comment Is Free, December 14, 2007

Highway to hell  
There's no accounting for taste, but if you want to wear a black t-shirt and listen to heavy metal music, is it the government's business to stop you? If you get a piercing or a tattoo, or dance like Michael Jackson, is the fabric of society going to be ... The Guardian, June 2 2003


Palestine/Israel

Pinkwashing Gaza 
Gay magazine links airstrikes to LGBT rights. al-bab, 11 July 2014

Israel and homo-nationalism 
al-bab, 28 July 2010

Zionist 'gay workshop' cancelled 
al-bab, 26 June 2010

Pinkwashing Israel 
al-bab, 17 June 2010

Coming out in Arabic 
Brian Whitaker reports on a lesbian group's struggle for acceptance in the Middle East. Guardian Unlimited, October 2 2006

Unspeakable love  
Homosexuality in the Middle East and the gay Palestinians who have taken refuge in Israel. By Brian Whitaker (Jewish Quarterly 202, Summer 2006).

Refugee status 
Gay Palestinians who dream of a better life in Israel. 
Yossi Klein Halevi (New Republic, 19 August, 2002)

Queer in the Land of Sodom 
The development of gay rights in Israel. By Lee Walzer (The Gully, February 2002)

Gay Israel: No Pride In Occupation 
By Hagai El-Ad (The Gully, February 2002)


Qatar

What it’s like to be gay and Qatari
Doha News, 5 August 2016

Royal charity fights homosexuality in Qatar 
al-bab, 24 June 2011

Fundamental union 
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a controversial Islamic scholar who approves of wife-beating and believes in traditional family values. The Mormon church, having abandoned polygamy more than a century ago, believes in traditional families too. The Guardian, January 25 2005


Saudi Arabia 

Transgender Saudi man speaks out publicly for first time to help others
by Ellen Wulfhorst, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 1 December 2016 

Saudi Arabia tackles rainbow peril 
Alarm over "emblems" of homosexuality. al-bab, 20 July 2015 

'Obscene party' raided in Saudi Arabia 
al-bab, 18 November 2011

Asylum and the 'gay Saudi' 
al-bab, 15 September 2010

Saudi Arabia's juggling act on homosexuality 
As a gay diplomat seeks US asylum, Saudi Arabia seems torn between wanting a civilised image and appeasing traditionalists. Comment Is Free, 13 Sep 2010

Saudi jailed and flogged for gay video 
al-bab, 11 March 2010

The Kingdom in the Closet 
By Nadya Labi
Sodomy is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, but gay life flourishes there. Why it is “easier to be gay than straight” in a society where everyone, homosexual and otherwise, lives in the closet. (Atlantic Monthly, May 2007)

Saudi Arabia: Men ‘behaving like women’ face flogging 
Sentences imposed for alleged homosexual conduct violate basic rights. Human Rights Watch, 6 April 2005 


Somalia 

Gay Somalis in London launch community website 
News report. (UK Gay News, 17 November 2007)


Syria

This gay bar in Damascus shows us the Syria that Western media outlets ignore 
By Brad Hoff, The Canary, 16 November 2016

We Don’t Have Rights, But We Are Alive
A gay soldier in Assad’s army
By James Harkin, Harper's Magazine, February 2016

Sexualizing & villainizing male Syrian refugees in Lebanon 
By Adriana Qubaia & Mathew Gagné. Muftah, 15 December 2014

The real world of gay girls in Damascus
By Daniel Nassar, The Guardian, 15 June 2011

Gay Girl in Damascus was an arrogant fantasy 
Tom MacMaster's hoax blog undermines, rather than illuminates, awareness of the realities of being gay in the Middle East. Comment Is Free, 13 Jun 2011

'Gay Girl' unmasked as a hoax 
al-bab, 13 June 2011

Syria and the Gay Girl mystery 
al-bab, 11 June 2011

Gay life in Syria 
al-bab, 24 June 2010


Tunisia

Despite threats and attacks, Tunisian activists are still fighting for greater LGBT rights
By Erin Kilbride, Think Progress, 24 May 2016

Tunisia: UN panel condemns forced anal exams 
Government should ban abusive “homosexuality” tests. Human Rights Watch, 23 May 2016

Tunisia: Men prosecuted for homosexuality 
Abuses in detention, prison. Human Rights Watch, 29 March 2016 

Dispatches: LGBT rights five years after the Tunisian uprising 
Human Rights Watch, 8 February 2016

Tunisia: LGBT group suspended 
Dangerous precedent for freedom of association. Human Rights Watch, 16 January 2016

Tunisia: 3-year sentence for homosexuality 
6 students subjected to anal examinations. Human Rights Watch, 16 December 2015

Tunisia: One-year sentence for homosexuality 
Suspect subjected to forced anal examination. Human Rights Watch, 28 September 2015 


United Arab Emirates 

Lesbianism shocks the Emirates 
al-bab, 15 February 2010

Ousted by a gay sheikh 
An author whose book touched on the sexual hangups of the local establishment has been disinvited from a Dubai literary festival. Comment Is Free, 16 Feb 2009

'Gay party' guests face hormone treatment 
More than two dozen men arrested at an allegedly gay party could face compulsory hormone treatment, officials in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, said yesterday. The Guardian, November 30 2005


Yemen 

'Gay' killings in Yemen 
How big is the problem? al-bab, 22 July 2013 

Message from a gay Yemeni 
'No word describes how devastating it is to hold this secret forever'. al-bab, 21 June 2013 

Coming out in Yemen 
Revolution activist goes public about his sexuality. al-bab, 9 June 2013