Same-sex relationships are illegal in Dubai and are, officially, not tolerated. If you know the “right” people and the right places in Dubai, there is plenty of gay life. Some of the gay spots in Dubai you can even read about in the Spartacus Directory. However, you can’t compare the gay life here in Dubai with that of Western Europe. Here, it’s almost all “underground” and there are risks involved.
However, many gay people do live in Dubai and, as long as you’re quiet and don’t draw attention to yourselves, you should be fine. Finding other gay people is, however, a big challenge. It can be a problem to find hotel allowing gay people to order one bedroom with one bad, or to rent some other Dubai property for their vacation. However there are many gay men & women there, and as long as they don’t flaunt it publicly everywhere you go, there is no problem whatsoever. The only places they can sort of “let your hair down” is in the nightclubs. Otherwise, its better to keep a neutral profile when going around town.
There are, obviously, officially no gay bars and those in the past that have germinated have been swiftly closed down with deportations following with equal swiftness. But anyway the gay scene is up and happening around many nightclubs in the city. It’s one of the many things in Dubai: everyone knows about it, but nobody makes it “official”.
Dubais first publicly advertised gay club night the Diamond Clubs gay “Fluff Night” featured a transvestite DJ from Birmingham, England, and a “best-dressed transvestite” contest showed example of importance being “not official”. Alerted to the gay event by the thousands of publicity flyers distributed by the partys organizers, local authorities closed the club for “violating Islamic laws and indulging in immoral activities”.
The order to close the club, issued by Dubais Crown Prince, General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was also seen by those in the region as a public demonstration of the governments disapproval of homosexuality. According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, consensual sodomy in Dubai is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, although punishment can be more severe if defendants are charged under Islamic law, rather than under the secular penal code.
Very often police raids parties and arrests men in countries like UEA where homosexuality is illegal. Hormone treatments are used in an attempt to “cure” gay men and turn them straight. The same is in Egypt, where once famously arrested more than a dozen gay men attending a boat party, a move that led to international condemnation and criticism from the European Union. Also in Saudi Arabia arrested more than 30 men for taking part in a gay wedding party.
However UAE were warned that any attempt to administer hormone or psychological treatment to foreigners would break international law. A police spokesman in Dubai answered on this that the foreigners were likely to be deported, while the Emirati men could be given hormone therapy if they consent.
The censor in internet sites in Dubai is pretty tough. Almost all of the websites concerning gays are blocked. Gaydar is totally blocked except for their French language version (a strange phenomena that I haven’t figured out yet). Every website that has the word “gay” or “sex” is blocked. While Etisalat has blocked many gay web sites, some of the paid message boards are easily accessible. Who said Dubai doesn’t have a night…er …gay life.