Homosexuality in the Middle East

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS

And (remember) Loot (Lot), when he said to his people: ‘Do you commit the worst sin such as none preceding you has committed in the ‘Aalameen (mankind and jinn)?


The last place one would expect to find homosexuals is in the Middle East. The majority of the countries in this region are Islamic States and, irrespective of whether they are Sunni or Shiite nations, homosexuality is universally condemned as being contrary to the Creation of Allah. The punishment for the offense of homosexuality in many nations in the Middle East, regardless of whether the Sharia Law is implemented in the country or not, is often the death penalty.

Despite the risk of death, homosexuals are flooding out of the ‘closet’ and into the streets. In Kuwait specifically, you can often see gangs of homosexuals walking together. They are easy to spot. The dress code for male homosexuals in Kuwait is tight clothing, shaped eyebrows, white foundation with powder and a little lipstick. For females, they dress up like males with short spiky hair, studs and chains. Islamic MPs in Kuwait have been calling for the formation of a special religious police unit to uphold morals in the country. But so far this request has fallen on deaf ears. Homosexuality is just one of the problems the MPs want to be tackled in Kuwait. Other problems include public lewdness and indecent behavior by young heterosexuals.

Kuwait is not the only country dealing with unprecedented homosexuality within its borders. Lebanon also reportedly is grappling with homosexuals exercising their perceived rights. However, in Lebanon homosexuals enjoy more freedom than anywhere else in the Middle East. Lebanon has gay bars and nightclubs as well as the first association for gay people in the Middle East, which is called the ‘Helem Foundation’. It was founded in 2004 and it’s mission, according to the director Georges Azzi, is to promote gay rights in Lebanon and to help the Ministry of Health support AIDS awareness in the country.

Perhaps the country where homosexuals are really most prominent is in Saudi Arabia, a country where homosexuality is punishable by flogging, life imprisonment or even beheading. Homosexuals in the region are continuously becoming bolder in promoting their lifestyle choices in public. While there are not specific venues for homosexuals to congregate in, there are specific places where homosexuals meet up. There are certain malls and grocery stores that gays utilize for meeting each other. And there is supposedly a street in Jeddah where prospective ‘customers’ can cruise and pick-up homosexual prostitutes. In ever-emboldened fearlessness, there have even been attempts at gay marriages. In 2004, the Saudi police raided a gay wedding party in which two Chadian men were about to marry in the city of Medina. And in 2005, 110 men were arrested at another gay wedding party in which 30 were later convicted.

Homosexuality is set to rise in the Middle East in the coming years and there seems to be nothing governments can do about it with homosexuals continuously exerting their presence in the community. The effect on society is sure to be felt with the family unit consisting of a mother, father and their offspring being challenged. The risk of homosexuality in society includes increased spread of sexually transmitted diseases and decreased growth of populations in that same-sexed couples cannot naturally bear children.