The British embassy in Dubai has stoked diplomatic fires after its Twitter account in the United Arab Emirates posted pictures of the rainbow flag flying outside its building in support of the LGBT community as pride month comes to an end.
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It added this caption to suggest the British government’s support for diversity and inclusion:
June is #PrideMonth and around the world we celebrate the equality and visibility of #LGBT+ people. Today, we are flying the rainbow flag to affirm our pride in the UK’s diversity and our values of equality, inclusion and freedom.
But this was greeted with criticism with many describing the move as 'unacceptable' and 'disrespectful' and to the beliefs and culture of the UAE.
What are locals saying about this?
Many locals and some foreigners have condemned the flying of the flag by the British embassy and the public display of support for queer community in an Islamic country. Some say the move is provocative and undiplomatic.
One user tweeted:
You can celebrate the day as you want without it contradicting the principles of the country.... We are an Islamic country and we do not support or encourage this kind of openness.
Shameful display of political gains. This is against the UAE’s religious and cultural values and must be revoked immediately.
Many more like this twitter user believe the move is an insult to the values and beliefs of the society in UAE.
This is not acceptable. Respect our religion and traditions.
State of LGBTQ issues in the UAE
Same-sex relations are criminalised under both the civil and sharia laws by which the UAE is governed.
Sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is illegal in the UAE and carries a penalty of confinement for at least 12 months.
Same-sex sexual relations are however punishable by a minimum jail sentence of 10 years in Dubai and 14 in Abu Dhabi.
Under sharia law, this is punishable by death although that sentence has yet to be meted out.
The former UAE Minister of Justice, Mohammed bin Nukhaira Al Dhahiri, was quoted in 2005 as saying:
There will be no room for homosexual and queer acts in the UAE. Our society does not accept queer behaviour , either in word or in action. Our society, God willing, is safe from every evil. The path of corruption added to the loss of the soul destroys the present and future of the youth.