Gigi Gorgeous’ Detainment Is Part of a Larger LGBT Problem in the Middle East

Gigi Gorgeous’ Detainment Is Part of a Larger LGBT Problem in the Middle East

I and other LGBTQIA+ people and allies who know anything about Dubai’s dubious history of sexism, exploitation, and capitalistic neo-fundamentalist philosophies are appalled, but sadly not shocked that YouTuber and makeup artist Gigi Gorgeous (Gigi Loren) was detained at Dubai International for being transgender.

The vlogger and model who became famous several years ago for documenting her transition on YouTube was held for five hours at Dubai’s international airport, as immigration officers first told her that being transgender is not allowed in Dubai, and then claimed that the problem was that her passport still features her male name (Gregory Lazaretto) and her male photo.

Gigi insists that her passport is current and reflects her female identity and post-transition photo.

Dubai’s policies illustrate not an adherence to Islam, but an adherence to the heteronormative patriarchy, a lust for capital, and the dominance of Arab elitists over non-Arabs. tweet

Why am I not surprised by Dubai’s treatment of a transgender model? For the same reason that I am not surprised by its double-standard enforcement of “decency laws,” or its exploitation of non-Arab workers: Dubai is a corrupt capitalist empire built shamefully on racism, sexism, and extreme interpretations of Islam that prioritize religious policing rather than self-governance or personal freedom of religious practice.

Dubai’s policies illustrate not an adherence to Islam, but an adherence to the heteronormative patriarchy, a lust for capital, and the dominance of Arab elitists over non-Arabs.

I am not surprised that as a woman and a trans-person, Gigi Gorgeous fell victim to Dubai’s narrow-minded interpretations of religion, which not only disregard the history of queer and trans Muslims, going back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but also disregard the rights of non-Muslims not to have to conform to Islamic ethical codes.

While these countries claim to be founded upon Islamic principles, they deny women basic rights guaranteed by Islam, and deny the same rights of privacy, mobility, and freedom of or from religion to non-Muslims, LGBTQIA+ people, and traveling foreign citizens. tweet

Dubai is not unlike other Arab peninsula countries including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and of course Saudi Arabia, that criminalize and police gender nonconformity and homosexuality.

While these countries claim to be founded upon Islamic principles, they deny women basic rights guaranteed by Islam, and deny the same rights of privacy, mobility, and freedom of or from religion to non-Muslims, LGBTQIA+ people, and traveling foreign citizens.

Rather than adopting policies that create healthy, open societies and criminalize and police only acts of injustice which harm citizens and communities, Dubai is content to allow widespread abuse and corruption while policing the private lives of individuals. This practice of enforcing pseudo-religious morality, sometimes on non-religious people, is un-Islamic.

Discrimination and oppression of this kind is far more reminiscent of homophobic and transphobic legislation lauded by extremist Evangelical groups than it is of main-stream Islam.

It is our duty as Muslims to be kind neighbors and to not make ourselves a trial for non-Muslims. tweet

Gigi Gorgeous: I don’t think I will ever find the right words to try to console you after the ordeal you have suffered, but I hope you know that many stand with you and the trans community in support of your full rights and freedoms, including your right to express your gender identity as you see fit.

It is our duty as Muslims to be kind neighbors and to not make ourselves a trial for non-Muslims. As infuriating as it is, it is not surprising to see Dubai fail in its duties as a Muslim country.

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Gigi Gorgeous’ Detainment Is Part of a Larger LGBT Problem in the Middle East
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