Diversity Guides

Brian McNaught's Gay & Transgender Issues in the Workplace Blog

Archive for the ‘International Issues’ Category

Working & Visiting Where You Might Not Feel Safe

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Two years ago, two lesbian tourists in Dubai were imprisoned for one month for showing affection on a beach. Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country governed by Islamic Sharia law. Punishment for same-sex love-making is imprisonment for UAE citizens, and deportation for foreigners.

Abu Dhabi, another member of the UAE, has recently announced plans to build three large, expensive museums, one an extension of the Louvre, and another of the Guggenheim. The project is requiring input and services from thousands of people from across the globe, most of whom excel in the arts. A short distance away from the museum sites, New York University is establishing a campus. Luxury hotels are being built to accommodate the large number of expected tourists.

Five years ago, 26 young men were arrested at an Abu Dhabi hotel for cross-dressing and/or having gay sex. They were all given a five-year prison sentence. The Minister of Justice was quoted as saying, "There will be no room for homosexual and queer acts in the UAE. Our society does not accept queer behavior, either in word or in action."

There are several Western-owned global corporations that have offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and throughout the Middle East. The vast majority of them have policies that guarantee their gay and transgender employees a workplace in which they feel safe and valued. How do these companies navigate the mine-filled cultural waters of religiously conservative Muslim countries? Read more…