Sir Elton John has sparked controversy by setting a concert date in Abu Dhabi later this month.

Homosexuality is punishable with imprisonment of up to 14 years in the country and there is general discrimination towards homosexuals in the United Arab Emirates.

Peter Tatchell, gay human rights campaigner from OutRage!, said:

“In early 2006, the United Arab Emirates imposed six years jail on 11 gay men arrested at a private party.

“They were imprisoned not for sexual acts, but merely for being gay and attending a gay social gathering. This is a highly repressive state, with few human rights for anyone.”

Just two years ago Sir Elton asked the British Government to do more for gay rights around the globe in an article he wrote for the Observer .

“I want our government, which has presided over many positive changes for gay people here in Britain, to ensure that ending violations of gay people’s fundamental human rights around the world becomes an explicit issue in its diplomatic relations with other countries,” he wrote.

The concert on January 22nd may help change LGBT rights in the United Arab Emirates, or at least shine a light on the country’s lack of human rights records on gays.

“Swamping homophobic states like the UAE with openly gay entertainers could be an effective way to help subvert anti-gay ignorance and prejudice,” said Mr Tatchell.

“Elton’s flamboyant queer presence will be a slap in the face for the straight Islamic establishment in Abu Dhabi.”

The over-the-top star will perform at an open-air concert at the luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.