Following the article ‘UAE ‘gay cure’ video removed from YouTube’, The National, one of the country’s most widely respected English language broadsheets, followed suit and reported on the matter.
Local LGBT activists see this as an important first step in a social dialogue.
In an unprecedented manner, The National, printed a short article covering the removal of the YouTube video stating: “A local group called Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transexual Rights UAE applauded the removal of the video, which it called ‘homophobic’”.
In addition several key figures within the UAE including the Sultan Al-Qassemi, retweeted both The National’s and PinkNews.co.uk’s articles regarding the video removal story.
Abdulla, the chairperson of the local group, Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Rights UAE (GLBTR UAE), commented: “The removal of that video is a milestone even though we are talking about something virtual on YouTube. The publication of an article in the local press and attention it got is unprecedented.”
“Press coverage is the willingness to hear another point of view. This is admirable and how a proper society conducts itself. Dialogue and understanding is the first step in the right direction,” he stresses.
He hopes there will be more dialogue in UAE society about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
“I just want parents to hear how their kids feel, how I felt and couldn’t be heard because I didn’t dare to speak out,” he says.
“I was really bullied in school and called offensive names. I was told that homosexuality is a sickness and a sin, and I started eventually believing that.”
Abdulla’s recalls how even a crush on a guy at high school felt disgusting to him: “I suffered. The pain and hurt was so intense that I felt like committing suicide, and I had no one to talk with for a long while.”
The pressing issue form him is that “many are still are or being traumatised and can’t speak out and live with their burden of a “dirty secret” with grave consequences for their entire lives”.
This is not helped by the “campaigns that are launched against us telling us and our families that we are sick, sinful and need to be treated and cured by hormones and or “psychology” in order to “be ourselves”, just like the message of that video”.
He says that the press can help society have a discussion around these issues and that would be “significant”.
“This is why I welcome dialogue and understanding as a first step; rather than hurtful campaigns, let’s have a dialogue in our society and especially with families,” he says.
“Let’s speak about sexuality not only homosexuality, it’s about understanding our youth, giving them some hope rather than damaging them for life. I am not even asking that people completely accept things but give the possibility to be heard and listened to, and this is something that is encouragingly just happening.”