Saturday, November 26, 2005

News (Lebanon): "Acid and X-OM Police Raid Updates" - HeLeM

Acid and X-OM Police Raid Updates

On the night of November 12, 2005, 6 men were arrested in Acid nightclub, a known gay venue in Sin el Fil. No charges were pressed against them. The detainees were released after 3 days of detention. Although no physical abuse was reported, the police were verbally abusive towards the men.

A week later, another known gay club, X-OM, was raided. The police checked IDs and inquired about drug use in the venue. No arrests took place that night.

Acid and X-OM were probably targeted by the police for their openly gay clientele, although legally they had no pretext for any arrests. Article 534 of the Lebanese penal code explicitly states that �penetrative sex against nature� is punishable by law, and not homosexuality per se or the adoption of a gay identity. Laws against public indecency may be enforced if excessive displays of affection or other such behavior is witnessed, but this does not entail the same sort

These arrests and raids are not haphazard. The increasing political tensions in the country are being manifested in severely heightened security measures that include augmented activity by the Vice Squads of the Internal Security Forces across Lebanon. Helem is working closely with lawyers and NGOs concerned with civil rights and liberties to make sure that incidents such as the haphazard arrests that occurred will not be repeated.

News (UAE): "Gay newlyweds face penalties in Emirates" - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Saturday, November 26, 2005 · Last updated 9:56 a.m. PT

Gay newlyweds face penalties in Emirates


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- More than two dozen gay Arab men - arrested at what police called a mass homosexual wedding - could face government-ordered hormone treatments, five years in jail and a lashing, authorities said Saturday.

The Interior Ministry said police raided a hotel chalet earlier this month and arrested 22 men from the Emirates as they celebrated the wedding ceremony, one of a string of recent group arrests of homosexuals here.

The men are likely to be tried under Muslim law on charges related to adultery and prostitution, said Interior Ministry spokesman Issam Azouri.

Outward homosexual behavior is banned in the United Arab Emirates, and the gay group wedding has alarmed leaders of this once-isolated Muslim country as it grapples with a sweeping influx of Western residents and culture.

The Arabian peninsula, nevertheless, has a long tradition of openly homosexual wedding singers and dancers.

"Lately people have been talking about (homosexuality), but it has been here for a long time," said Nadia Buhannad, a Dubai psychologist. "It becomes shocking only when it is your own son."

Police acting on a tip raided the hotel in Ghantout, a desert region on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway, and found a dozen men dressed as female brides and a dozen others in male Arab dress, apparently preparing for a ceremony that would join them as husbands and wives, Azouri said.

"It was a real party with balloons and champagne," he said.

The 26 men arrested include those from the Emirates as well as an Indian disc jockey and three men from neighboring Arab states. One of the arrested was to perform the wedding ceremony. Azouri said some of the group told police they worked as prostitutes. Others had been arrested before.

Last year, police made mass arrests at an apparent gay wedding in the conservative emirate of Sharjah and at the Khor Fakkan beach resort in Fujairah emirate, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Two dozen men arrested in Sharjah were given symbolic lashings - meant to humiliate, not inflict pain - and then released from jail, said prominent Emirati lawyer Abdul Hamid al-Kumaiti.

"There are so many others like these guys," al-Kumaiti said. "The police and rulers need to do more than just lash them and let them go."

Azouri described the arrests in Ghantout as a "delicate" matter made public for the first time - more than a week after the event - because the country's tribal leadership wants to demonstrate it will not tolerate open homosexuality.

On Friday, as newspapers reported the arrests, the minister of justice and Islamic affairs, Mohammed bin Nukhaira Al Dhahiri, called on parents to be vigilant for "deviant" behavior in their children.

"There will be no room for homosexual ... acts in the UAE," Al Dhahiri was quoted as saying in the Dubai-based Khaleej Times newspaper.

The arrested men have been questioned by police and were undergoing psychological evaluations Saturday. Azouri said the Interior Ministry's department of social support would try to direct the men away from homosexual behavior - using methods including male hormone treatments, if the men are found to be deficient.

"Because they've put society at risk they will be given the necessary treatment, from male hormone injections to psychological therapies," he said. "It wasn't just a homosexual act. Now we're dealing with a kind of marriage. There was a ritual involved."

Foreigners arrested will be deported after serving any sentences imposed in court, he said.

Azouri said government psychologists were grappling to learn the causes behind an apparent increase in homosexual behavior in the Emirates. The booming economy has lured hundreds of thousands of Western residents and millions of tourists. Azouri said authorities want to be seen to be taking action at a time when complaints of gay behavior were emerging from the country's schools and myriad shopping malls.

Most cases of homosexual behavior are taboo and violate Emirati laws based on Islamic sharia. Azouri suggested that other countries with laws based on religion, including Christianity and Judaism, would also ban gay behavior and marriage.

"It's not about freedom of opinion, it's about respecting religion which forbids this type of behavior," he said.

Friday, November 25, 2005

News (UAE): "Officials Lambaste Capital's Gay Party Youth" - Khaleej Times§ion=theuae

[Note from Al-Fatiha: The Khaleej Times is an English-language daily reaching the primarily Indian sub-continent workers living in the Gulf region. The following article appears to be a translation from an Arabic newspaper, although this is not clear. The terminologies "gay and queer" are most likely Arabic translations of deregotary words.]

Officials lambaste capital's gay party youth
By Adel Arafah

25 November 2005

ABU DHABI - Senior officials have condemned the queer acts practised by 26 youth at a gay party held in a hotel in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday night.

A group of 26 men, many of whom were dressed in female outfits and the rest in Arab attire, were arrested by the police on Wednesday following a tip-off that such a party was being held.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, experts, educationists and men of law have called on parents to play their role and give importance to the role of schools and national associations in inculcating the teachings of Islam and intrinsic social values in the minds of the youth to help them spend their leisure time purposefully.

Mohammed bin Nukhaira Al Dhahiri, Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Auqaf (Endowments), advised parents to follow the teachings of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) that you are all responsible for your subjects. (The man is responsible in his house, for his wife and children). Therefore, he said, parents should play a major role in upbringing their children according to the teachings and tenets of Islam, and Arab and Islamic traditions.

"Had parents ingrained these values and noble teachings and manners in the minds of their children, they would not have deviated and behaved in the strange ways that are rejected by mankind, and discarded by all human beings, irrespective of their religion or creed, race or nationality," he said. "The ministry spared no effort in preaching Islamic teachings, while calling upon youth to follow the virtuous and abandon vice," he said.

Preachers at Friday sermons and Muslim scholars at mosques always preach and guide citizens of the country to do what is good and avoid what is prohibited. The ministry, he said, would continue its efforts in safeguarding the present and the new generations from being spoilt by the enemies of humanity and religion who are spewing venom through their acts, which are abhorrent to God and unacceptable in all societies. Al Dhahiri urged the youth to spend their leisure time in purposeful activities.

"The path of corruption added to the loss of the soul destroys the present and future of the youth, for whom the government spares no effort in creating a bright future on the basis of the fact that they are the pillars of the future, and the nation has pinned high hopes on them," the minister said. "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," he angrily stated. "Our society, God willing, is safe from every evil, as the good earth always produces well," he added.

"The deviation of the youth who took on the role of women is a kind of blind aping and imitation of queer, abnormal groups, whose aim is to destroy all values and public manners and practice all kinds of vices," said Dr Mohammed Twheel, a professor at the UAE University. Those deviated people have disobeyed Allah the Almighty, he said, and described them as disciples of Satan as they do what the devil orders them to.

He said they did so because they are not God-fearing and find lust and enjoyment in disobeying God in the belief that they do something special and attract others to themselves. He called on society to protect the youth from blindly imitating Western values by letting fathers befriend their sons to find out what they are doing, thus saving them before they dive into sins. Universities, schools and social organisations should also play their role effectively by protecting the youngsters, and making them spend their leisure time purposefully.

Dr Twheel called for the interaction of all segments of society to focus greater attention on the issue of the homosexuality. "All resources should be mobilised to nip this evil in the bud," he said. "The minority who practices homosexuality should return to their senses before this danger aggravates and spreads among our youth," he warned.

Lieutenant Colonel Najm Abdullah Sayyar from the Social Support Department of the Abu Dhabi Police Directorate, said the Ministry of Interior was playing an important role in preventing such alien phenomenon from corrupting UAE society. He paid a tribute to Interior Minister Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan for attaching great attention to youth and importance to social problems. In achieving that objective, he said, he had issued instructions to set up a special social police department. "The department is designed to safeguard society from alien cultures, crimes and strange acts," he noted.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"Islam blasted by gay Muslim peer" - Black Information Link

Islam blasted by gay Muslim peer
Exclusive by Urmee Khan 24/11/2005

NEW LABOUR PEER Waheed Alli has attacked Islam claiming the Quran is riddled with contradictions and the religion dominated by rituals.

In remarks which will infuriate Muslim leaders the openly-gay Lord Alli accused clerics of being “intellectually lazy” and called for a “radical democratisation of Islam.”

One Muslim figure who witnessed Lord Alli’s speech reacted: “I’m angry, I think he’s got it wrong”.

The normally low profile peer waded into the religion in a lecture called ‘Islam the Third Way’ at the Canadian Embassy on Monday night.

Lord Alli – who has previously never spoken out on Islam - attacked “Muslim reluctance to tackle the contradictions in Islam.”

Referring to the community’s response to the London terror attacks, Lord Alli issued a stark warning. “Verbal condemnation is not enough. We can no longer be intellectually lazy”.


Lord Alli argued that Muslims must try and understand Islam better and Islam must be reconciled with the modern world, saying: “ritual has overtaken religion”, adding that 7th century values do not fit 20th century life.

“The problem lies in the Quran itself”, he said. “There are contradictions in Quran; we have to stop avoiding them. If you find the Hadith literally, you can kill and maim as many people you can.

"If you use Quran as literal text, you can stone a woman who has been raped and in Iran, two boys were hung up for being gay”.

Lord Alli, a friend of Euro trade commissioner Peter Mandleson, said that Sharia law could be a powerful defence in balancing the rights of individuals against the rights of the state.


“In a Muslim country, I as a gay man, should be able to go to Sharia law for protection, Sharia law should be a source of protection not oppression”

He called Muslims to follow “the third way” which he said was the democratisation of Islam. “We have to take individual responsibility for action, collective responsibility for our religion.

“We are today at a crossroads – modern values in Islam against orthodox values in Islam, this century will be defined by this conflict – conflict of values”

Green Party MEP Jean Lambert found his speech a useful contribution and called for Alli to speak on campuses where many tensions lie. “I think he was good, and he should go and speak to the younger people at the universities”.

However there was some scepticism from the Muslims in the audience. A young hijab-wearing student lambasted Alli for misreading the Quran and argued that Islam guaranteed rights for women.

A Labour politician said privately before the event, “I have great respect for his work in every other area, but I don’t understand why he has chosen to get involved in this debate”.

Voted the most powerful Asian in the media in 2005, Lord Alli first came to prominence in the media through his TV production company Planet 24.

Lord Alli, was given a life peerage at the age of 34 in 1998, became the youngest and first openly gay peer in Parliament. He has been very close to new Labour and was an outspoken critic on Section 28, the legislation that bans local authorities from promoting homosexuality.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Press Release: Al-Fatiha Calls on European Governments and Canada to Seek Further Details from Iran on Newly Reported Executions

Media Contact:
Suha Fatima
Chair - Human Rights Committee

Tel. 202-452-5534
Al-Fatiha Calls on European Allies and Canada to Seek Further Details from Iran on Newly Reported Executions
November 14, 2005 - The Human Rights Committee of Al-Fatiha, a US-based organization dedicated to Muslim sexual and gender minorities called on European governments who have political contact with Iran to seek further details from the Iranian government on reports of the recent execution of three young men who may have been killed because of their sexual orientation and consensual sexual acts.
If the reports are accurate, the hanging of one man in early November and two men in mid-November would bring to total five young men including two teenagers (under 18 years of age) who have been executed by the government of Iran in less than four months.
According to Iran Focus, a non-profit news service provider that focuses on events in Iran, the latest executions were of one man in the Iranian twon of Sari (convicted of rape) and two young men who were hanged in a public square in the northern city of Gorgan after being found guilty of lavat, or homosexual relationship. The reports came from semi-official daily newspapers in Iran on November 8 and November 13 respectively.

Canada recently introduced a United Nations resolution expressing concerns over the violation of human rights in Iran. Al-Fatiha supports the Canadian resolution and called on European governments in the General Assembly to support the actions of the Canadian government.
Al-Fatiha will be sending letters to Candian and European government officials at the United Nations to support the human rights resolution.

Individuals and organizations in the United States are asked to not contact the Iranian government directly or to hold protests to condemn the Iranian government. Given the hostile relationship between the United States and Iran such actions may have a negative backlash against marginalized communities in Iran.

Al-Fatiha encouraged American counterparts to contact European governments and the Canadian foreign ministry to express grave concern on the sudden increase of executions against individuals who may have been executed due to their sexual orientation or because of consensual sex with the same gender.

Al-Fatiha is also working with human rights organizations in the United States including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, to strategize on possible actions by US-based individuals and organizations to hold Iran accountable to its human rights abuses. Plans may include writing a letter to Secretary of State Condalezza Rice and to hold meetings with human rights officials in the US State Department and European and Canadian government officials at the United Nations.
Reports indicate that Iran's new hardline government has thus far executed 92 individuals for various crimes deemed punishable by dealth, since the new hard-line government was elected less than six months ago.

Arrests of young people, women and political opponents have also increased since the election. Additionally the new government has appointed members of the Revolutionary Guard into key government positions.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Articles on Iran's Latest Executions and Iranian Government's Purging of Moderates - Al-Fatiha News

Articles on Iran's Latest Executions and Iranian Government's Purging of Moderates - Al-Fatiha News

Iran Reportedly Executes Two More Gay Men - November 13, 2005

Iran Hangs Two Young Homosexuals - November 13, 2005

Iran Executions - 92 people in four and a half months

Iran - Purge of Moderates Extends to Governors and Banks

Canada pushes for adoption of UN resolution on human rights in Iran

Iran Publicly Hangs Young Man in North of Country

"Iran: Two More Executions for Homosexual Conduct" - Human Rights Watch

From Human Rights Watch:
Iran: Two More Executions for Homosexual Conduct

(New York, November 22, 2005) – Iran’s execution of two men last week for homosexual conduct highlights a pattern of persecution of gay men that stands in stark violation of the rights to life and privacy, Human Rights Watch said today.

On Sunday, November 13, the semi-official Tehran daily Kayhan reported that the Iranian government publicly hung two men, Mokhtar N. (24 years old) and Ali A. (25 years old), in the Shahid Bahonar Square of the northern town of Gorgan.

The government reportedly executed the two men for the crime of "lavat." Iran’s shari`a-based penal code defines lavat as penetrative and non-penetrative sexual acts between men. Iranian law punishes all penetrative sexual acts between adult men with the death penalty. Non-penetrative sexual acts between men are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are punished with death. Sexual acts between women, which are defined differently, are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are also punished with death.

“The execution of two men for consensual sexual activity is an outrage,” said Jessica Stern, researcher with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “The Iranian government’s persecution of gay men flouts international human rights standards.”

In addition to the two executions last week, there have been other cases of persecution and execution of gay men in Iran in recent years.

    • In September 2003, police arrested a group of men at a private gathering in one of their homes in Shiraz and held them in detention for several days. According to Amir, one of the men arrested, police tortured the men to obtain confessions. The judiciary charged five of the defendants with “participation in a corrupt gathering” and fined them.

    • In June 2004, undercover police agents in Shiraz arranged meetings with men through Internet chatrooms and then arrested them. Police held Amir, a 21-year-old, in detention for a week, during which time they repeatedly tortured him. The judicial authorities in Shiraz sentenced him to 175 lashes, 100 of which were administered immediately. Following his arrest, security officials subjected Amir to regular surveillance and periodic arrests. From July 2005 until he fled the country later in the year, police threatened Amir with imminent execution.

    • On March 15, 2005, the daily newspaper Etemaad reported that the Tehran Criminal Court sentenced two men to death following the discovery of a video showing them engaged in homosexual acts. According to the paper, one of the men confessed that he had shot the video as a precaution in case his partner withdrew the financial support he had been providing in return for sex. In response to the man’s confession, his partner was summoned to the authorities and both men were sentenced to death. As the death penalty was pronounced against both men, it appears to have been based on their sexual activity.

“These abuses have created an atmosphere of terror for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people throughout Iran,” said Stern. “But arrest, torture and execution are not limited to gays and lesbians. Any group of people deemed ‘immoral’ becomes subject to state-sanctioned persecution and even murder.”

In Iran, executions and lashings are regular means of punishment for a broad range of crimes, not merely same-sex acts. Judges often accept coerced confessions, and security officials routinely deny defendants access to counsel. Late last year, the Iranian judiciary, which has been at the center of many reported human rights violations, formed the Special Protection Division, a new institution that empowers volunteers to police moral crimes in neighborhoods, mosques, offices and any place where people gather. The Special Protection Division is an intrusive mechanism of surveillance that promotes prosecution of citizens for behavior in their private domain.

Human Rights Watch called upon the Iranian government to decriminalize homosexuality and reminded Iran of its obligations under Toonen v. Australia (1994), the Human Rights Committee’s authoritative interpretation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party. Toonen v. Australia extends recognition of the right to privacy and the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation throughout human rights law.

Furthermore, Human Rights Watch urged Iran to reform its judiciary in accordance with principles for fair trials enshrined in both the Iranian constitution and international human rights law. Finally, Human Rights Watch called upon Iran to cease implementation of capital punishment in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty, irreversibility, and potential for discriminatory application.

References to Iranian Homosexuality


"In the latter part of the twentieth century, as a result of greater contact with Western culture and sexual practices, a new discourse developed in Iran and many other Middle Eastern countries. The West was branded as "immoral" for ostensibly two reasons: female nudity and open adult male homosexuality. In part, this new discourse was the result of an expansion of the tourist industry and increased exposure to western media. Parts of North Africa - Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, and the Muslim Coast of Kenya - bcame favorite tourist spots for European men and women. Such overt conduct by western homosexuals made the task of local gay and human rights activitists more difficult in the traditional Middle East. Homosexuality and pederasty remain significant cultural practices, but members of Middle Eastern communities would not dare declare themselves gay. There are homosexual men in high positions - ministers, deputies, Islamist leaders - who remain married, have families, and maintain same-sex relations outside the home. The community ostracizes those who stop camouflaging their homosexuality.

There is a lso a long tradition in nationalist movements of consolidating power through narratives that affirm patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality, attributing sexual abnormality and immorality to a corrupt ruling elite that is about to be overthrown and/or is complicit with foreign imperialism (Hayes 2000, 16). Not all the accusations leveled against the Pahlavi family and their wealthy supporters stemmed from political and economic grievances. A significant portion of the public anger was aimed at their "immoral" lifestyle. There were rumors that a gay lifestyle was rampant at the court. Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda was said to have been a homosexual. The satirical press routinely lampooned him for his meticulous attire, the purple orchid in his lapel, and his supposed marriage of convenience. The shah himself was rumored to be bisexual. There were reports that a close male friend of the shah from Switzerland, a man who knew him from their student days in the country, routinely visited him. But the greatest public outrage was aimed at two young, elite men with ties to the court who held a mock wedding ceremony. Especially to the highly religious, this was public confirmation that the Pahlavi house was corrupted with the worst kinds of sexual transgressions, that the shah was no longer master of his own house. These rumors contributed to public anger, to a sense of shame and outrage and ultimately were used by the Islamists in their calls for a revolution. Soon after coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini established the death penalty for homosexuality. In February and March 1979 there were sixteen executions for crimes related to sexual violations. At the same time, in the new, sex-segregated Islamic Republic, the greates transgression became dating and sexual relations between unmarried or unrelated men and women. To this day, hundreds of such "criminals" are arrested, flogged, tormented, forced to pay a penalty, and sometimes held in prison each year. In a culture where kissing, hugging, and holding hands between men and between women are perfectly acceptable social customs, traditional cover homosexuality has continued to exist and is even protected by sex-segregated institutions and public spaces." 161 - 162


Afary, Janet, Kevin Anderson, and Michel Foucault. Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Hayes, Jarrod. Queer Nations: Marginal Sexualities in the Maghreb. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 2000.


"The figure of Westoxicated woman as the focus of a cultural critique of prerevolutionary Iran was itself a figure of double displacement. It was a displacement of the figure of European woman onto an Iranian figure, but it was also a displacement of the "sex troubles" of Iranian modernity; woman had come to act as a masquerade for amrad( numa). A number of twentieth-century transformations, central among them the compulsory unveiling campaign of 1936 - 41, made the over-Europeanized woman the privileged excess. Yet the figure of the fukuli was never far away. Recall that Amir 'Abbas Huvayda, Iran's prime minister in the last decades of Muhammad Riza Shah's reign, was rumored to be a Baha'i and a homosexual. Whether or not he was, the two designations were figures of Iranian modernity's alterity and excess. He was thought to be not only politically impotent and passive but also a passive homosexual. His marriage was considered a ruse, and jokes about his sexual life were but a barely concealed topic of satire and social gossip. He was always meticulously shaved and immaculately tidy. He wore an orchid on his coat pocket. All these details linked him with the figure of fukuli, a mimic man, always already under suspicion of being an amradnuma.

Our post-1979 concentration on a critique of cultural construction of gender for the formation of Iranian modernity and the price that many women have paid for this project have continued the screening work of "remembering woman to forget the amrad." For example, from the initial months of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, a great deal of popular energy was directed against what were perceived as cultural markers of the old regime. As part of this "cultural purification," as it was called, women's veils and men's beards became the recommended (for the beard) and the compulsory (for the veil) visible markers of state-sponsored masculinity and femininity. Men were also highly pressured into not wearing a tie. Often considered simply a symbol of Europeanization, the necktie has its own chain of association, through the bow tie, with the figure of the fukuli. Though much has been written about women's veil, little has been said on men's beard and tie.

The issue of women's veil and unveil, compulsory or consensual, in Islamicate societies and communities has taken center stage in discussions of "the status of women" in these societies on an international scale. The veil, in its hypervisibility, has come to serve as a sign for more than gender; it has come to be read for "the state of modernity." This hypervisibility has compounded the erasure of that other excess figure of Iranian modernity by continuing the prior work of making woman stand as a privileged mark of modernity.

It is now vital for these connections to be made if Iranian feminism is to retain its critical edge, especially as current Iranian culture wars have become explicitly articulated around a concept of cultural imperialism and the West that is focused on "moral corruption, sexual excess, and homosexuality."


Najmabadi, Afsaneh. Women with Mustaches and Men Without Beards : Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity.
Ewing, NJ, USA: University of California Press, 2005. p 243.

Girl Power - Financial Times

Financial Times (
Girl power
By Noha Mellor
Published: November 11 2005 13:10 | Last updated: November 11 2005 13:10

Nancy, a young and attractive Arab woman with long flowing hair, blue eyes and fluttering eyelashes, is serving the drinks in a cafe where all the customers are young men. She flits among the tables, smiling and wearing a skimpy dress. Then she looks into the camera and sings: “Yes, I might be angry with you. But no, I won’t leave you.”

Music videos featuring young, feisty women might be common elsewhere. But in the Arab world, videos - or “video clips”, as they are known locally - of female singers dancing and flirting in an apparently liberated way are indicators of a social and artistic revolution at the heart of society. And Nancy Ajram, the Lebanese performer in this particular video, is just one of a growing number of a new kind of Arab female star.