The U.S and U.K embassies in the United Arab Emirates have raised the rainbow pride flag, which honours LGBTQ communities, to celebrate Pride Month.
This is the first time any diplomatic mission has flown a gay pride flag in the Gulf and in a country where same-sex relationships are illegal.
“June is #PrideMonth and around the world we celebrate the equality and visibility of #LGBT+ people,” the U.K. mission to the UAE on Twitter on Monday. “Today, we are flying the rainbow flag to affirm our pride in the UK’s diversity and our values of equality, inclusion and freedom,” the post added, along with the hashtag ”#Pride2021.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy posted a photo of its own flagpole flying the American and pride flags, and its Twitter account published a tweet saying, “On the anniversary of Stonewall, a milestone in the American civil rights movement, the U.S. Mission shows its support for the dignity and equality of all people.”
Negative reactions to the posts were swift with Nasser Al-Shaikh, the former director of Dubai’s finance department, posting on Twitter: “Very disrespectful from the British Embassy to the UAE & its people. Looks like someone there is still living the long gone UK imperial days.”
No official comment has been made by the UAE about the matter.
The homosexual act is considered a sin in Islam and despite the UAE permitting its expat population to engage in cohabitation, drinking alcohol and eating pork, the local population remains largely conservative and religious.
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The UAE’s penalties surrounding homosexual acts are not clear, although it is significantly more liberal than its neighbours where the death penalty can apply in extreme circumstances.