Circling around the news is something that may violate human rights in the Middle East, pointing out just how bad it might be for gays living in these countries: some Arab states are looking to develop a “gay” test to bar gay travellers from entry. It is illegal to be gay in 78 countries around the world, but in five countries –– three of which are in the Middle East (Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) –– it is punishable by death.
There are no clear scientific guidelines on how Kuwait, the country to come up with the idea, will in fact use and meter out the test proposed for a number of interested countries.
But the intended test is for entry to Kuwait or any of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC). The GCC includes of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Yousouf Mindkar, director of public health at the Kuwaiti health ministry, said that the routine clinical screening of expatriates coming into the GCC will include tests to identify LGBT people who will then be banned from entering the country.
Mindkar says he has the technology to “detect” gays and prevent them from coming across the GCC borders. The plan will emerge in all its detail on November 11 when the Gulf Cooperation Countries committee convene.
“Health centres conduct the routine medical check to assess the health of the expatriates when they come into the GCC countries,” he told local daily Al Rai. “However, we will take stricter measures that will help us detect gays who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states.”
We can presume that this proposed “gaydar” test is meant to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases from entering those conservative states and countries? Some gay “scenes” may also be associated with illicit activities that detract marry-able people from getting married and having kids. But straight people can act just as naughty!
We have received a personal email recently from an Indian national denied entry into the UAE for suspected TB scars. This lawyer accused the UAE of gross human rights violations.
While it is important for countries to try and keep communicable diseases in check (think about the MERS virus), diseases that “gays” get actually affect all humans.
Any ideas on what kind of factors would be included in the gay test? Will it be a lie detector, some hair-brained blood test or a the way a guy or girl talks or walks?
I suggest these same countries start working on testing air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, human rights standards at home, marine effluents and general poisons going into the environment.
Gays, at least the ones I know, are usually progressive thinkers in these areas: they are often the first to fight for the unjust when it comes to human and animal rights. They are among the world’s best artists and lead the way in veganism.
Meanwhile, gay travellers can find a very warm welcome in Tel Aviv, Israel, and while it is frowned upon in Turkey, gay travellers reportedly do not have problems there. I met a gay male traveller when I was staying in the Kasbah du Toubkal in Morocco though he was single at the time. But he seemed pretty at ease with being in Morocco.It seems to be hard, by these accounts, to be gay in Cairo. Dubai seems pretty friendly by far out of all Middle Eastern Arabian cities.
Oh, and if we have enough problems on our hands wondering if the FIFA 2020 World Cup should be in Qatar’s winter or summer, people from the LGBT in the UK are proposing an outright boycott.
I think some input and dialogue from locals who live in the GCC is worth considering before big boycotts are discussed.
My mom told me about a time when she travelled to Florida when it was illegal for blacks to be on certain buses and beaches there, and that was only about 40 years ago. Why am I saying this? The Gulf countries may need a little time catching up to what the western world thinks about sexuality and how one should choose to celebrate their personal choices.
Instead of a boycott, how about some (green) travel to the GCC countries to support the gay men and women there? Come November, see if you can pass the test.
Image of sexy man from Shutterstock