Categories:Middle East

Gay lawyers in the Gulf: Pride denied

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  • Firms turn blind eye, it seems

    I work for a niche firm which has foreign offices including one in the UAE. Foreign secondments are an important element in any long term career at the firm and I had begun to consider potential secondment destinations. The UAE was near the top of the list. But that was because I was ignorant of the severity of the law concerning homosexuality in the UAE.

    I am frankly amazed by the relaxed stance taken by the people interviewed for the article. Personally, I will not set foot in those territories whilst the current laws are in place, unless it is absolutely essential. I could just about stomach going for a meeting or conference, but to go and live there for a matter of many months or years is out of the question, even whilst single.

    Naturally, my position applies equally to my leisure time. I had planned to go and stay in the supreme monument to kitsch, known as the Burj Al Arab Hotel, but in the circumstances I will go and satisfy my penchant for the occasional bit of utter vulgarity elsewhere.

    I can see that reconciling their equality efforts with operating in jurisdictions that criminalise and discriminate against gay people is tricky for firms. However, it is implicit in the article that firms have in the past insisted that gay people be seconded to such jurisdictions, whatever their feelings.

    I would hope that in an age where almost all firms trumpet their belief in equality that they would forego making a buck in such circumstances and put the associate’s feelings (and safety/liberty) first. However, rather sadly and worryingly, your report suggests that there appears to be some way to go until that is widely seen as the right way to proceed.

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  • Not a chance!

    I'm similarly surprised (as the first poster) at the comments that some people would happily go to such countries and effectively go back into the closet for a while.
    I similarly wouldn't set foot in those countries unless it was absolutely essential and I would hope my firm wouldn't try force me to go for the sake of career advancement. Just as, although I hear wonderful things about the Caribbean, I would never go on holiday there for the same reason.

    Would these firms force female associates to go work in Iran or another country where Sharia law applies?

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  • Odd ...

    I find this article a little bit strange as it ignores the simple fact that in the Gulf (as well as the Middle East) the idea of non-married hetrosexual couples is also unacceptable and criminalized by shariaa law. As such, if you want the Gulf money, you do need to accept their rules. They will not change their rules for you!

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  • Firms do not have a choice...The law is what it is

    The gulf and Middle Eastern Countries in general have very strict laws on heterosexual relationships outside of marriage and even public displays of affection within marriage. There is no such thing as discrimination against homosexuality in that region as the laws there are different from the Europe or the West generally.

    It is quiet preposterous to criticize their laws and describe them as discriminatory...lawyers have the choice where to work and Firms should simply follow the rules of the countries they are in. as they say you can't have your cake and eat it...many other countries in the world do not tolerate homosexuality due to culture and religion not just the Middle East...if a person doesn't like it simply they should not go there. Full stop.

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  • Perhaps surprising but in my opinion, gays and lesbians can have a much fuller 'more normal' life in the Gulf States than they might have in Europe. Out here, men socialise with men, women socialise with women. It is the heterosexual that sticks out like a sore thumb, especially if they do something stupid such as kissing or more in public. All of my (Western)male colleagues at the university where I teach are gay. They have all been here for up to 20 years. That long tenure has obviously not been just for the money!

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