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Being Mindful of Other Cultures: LGBTQIA+ Rights Within The United Arab Emirates

CW: This article discusses discrimination, lack of expression, rights and equality.

The LGBTQIA+ community celebrates Pride Month every year in June. In 2023, you would think all places are in acceptance of these rights. However, Pride Month is not celebrated everywhere because of different cultures and religions. We in the United Kingdom, should be grateful and appreciate our society and how accepting it is of other communities as not everyone has the support we have.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is home to 9.365 million people as of 2021, it is becoming increasingly popular with both emigrants and the tourism industry since citizens are outnumbered nine to one by migrants! However, the LGBTQIA+ community within the UAE face many challenges, it is only right to inform people about the rules and regulations within the UAE surrounding this. Human rights in general within the UAE are very strict and unlike the Western world, we live in today. This is due to the religious beliefs the country holds. There is no support or advocacy organisations that operate openly in the country and social attitudes towards this topic are repressed and unspoken about in education and within the Islamic faith.

Criminal Provisions

In the UAE it is illegal to be: a homosexual, have the same sexual activities and cross-dress.

These provisions can carry fines of up to 10,00 dirhams, prison sentences which can lead to a maximum of 14 years, and in some cases, a death penalty can be imposed too.


Although there have been some simple laws passed such as in 2018 the law permits doctors to conduct reassignment surgery and in 2020 allowing heterosexual couples to cohabit with each other. There are still many limitations due to censorship within the state. They have put restrictions on various websites, chat rooms and blogs to monitor them for anything that goes against the country's Islamic morals within the LGBTQIA+ community. They banned Bollywood’s first romantic comedy, Lightyear, and a child’s comic book because they were allegedly promoting homosexuality.

Moving Forward

There is so much change still needed within the country as there is already stigma and discrimination surrounding the topics. The UAE needs to educate their society on these topics so that people are well informed while we need to educate our society about their religious beliefs and respect their choices. Laws need to be passed and implemented into society to help many people feel comfortable in their own bodies. But this is not enough! In addition to this, they also need to implement anti-discrimination laws to make sure everyone feels safe and supported within the society and create a community whereby we can all celebrate Pride Month every June. We need to be educated that we don’t all have the same laws, privileges and freedoms as other countries and cultures.


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