By Jack Chavdarian
While gays are fighting for marriage equality here in America, LGBT in the United Arab Emirates are fighting to simply survive.
“You have the government coming after you, poking you with needles and throwing you in jail,” Chair and Founder of LGBT RIGHTS UAE, Abdulla said.
In a country where homosexual activity is criminalized and can lead to the death penalty, the organization LGBT Rights UAE is working to change the climate for LGBT Emirati.
Abdulla, who would rather not reveal his last name for safety reasons, says the organization is working to raise awareness and educate the public.
The internet has proven to be useful for the organization as Facebook,YouTube and email are the primary ways the organization reaches gays in the country and gets their message out.
“We are also planning a series of educational videos to dispel rumors and myths about what it means to be LGBT,” Abdulla said.
Decriminalizing homosexuality and gaining basic human rights for LGBT in the UAE are also long term goals of the organization.
Abdulla started the organization because of his frustration with how gays are treated in the UAE.
“I was hoping for change and getting frustrated that no one was doing anything,” Abdulla said. “Then I realized that I wasn’t being helpful by expecting someone [else]to do it, so I did.”
As of now, the LGBT community is underground in the country, and most Emirati gays often succumb to cultural pressures and commit to opposite-sex marriages.
Abdulla says Islam, the majority religion of the UAE, is a big reason why the public is so against homosexuality.
Sex, homosexual or heterosexual, is also viewed as taboo in the country, and is only considered appropriate for procreation.
Abdulla does admit, however, that it appears opinions are beginning to shift in the small Middle Eastern nation.
“Atitudes are changing with the younger generation, and there are also those who are just apathetic about the whole thing,” he said.
Abdulla believes everyone can help LGBT in the UAE by spreading their organization’s message and sharing their YouTube videos and Facebook page.
Although the environment isn’t gay friendly as of now, the organization has big dreams for the country.
Abdulla hopes that one day the atmosphere will change so it will be a safe haven for all gays in the Middle East to come out and be themselves.
Like the organization’s facebook page here, and view their first video below.