A homophobic video filmed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been removed from YouTube following a campaign by Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transexual Rights UAE (GLBTR UAE) and coverage by Gay Middle East, The Huffington Post, PinkNews, and Gay Star News.
The video purported to be a "tutorial" showing how gays can be "cured" or "scrubbed clean" of their sexuality. The campaign highlighted the difficult issues that LGBT people face in the UAE, particularly LGBT youth, who sometimes internalize such homophobic views with grave psychological consequences and may even be driven to suicide. Thousands of YouTube users expressed their dislike of the video and reported it as offensive.
"To witness hatred and illusion being ripped off the Internet is but one of the first steps towards a world with less confusion and more equality," remarked Ali, a 25-year-old student from Dubai and a member of GLBTR UAE. "When I saw the 'gay cure' video was laid to rest for good, I was extremely delighted in our victory in battling for our rights, but also in my heart I said a little thanks to those people for recognising the mistake that they did posting such a harsh, ridiculous video on such a vast scale."
The publicity around the video drew commentary worldwide, and most importantly within the UAE itself. Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, a renowned columnist and prominent microblogger in the UAE, discussed the video. The National, one of the UAE's main papers, also raised it in a relatively favourable manner.
GLBTR UAE founder Abdulla remarked, "I respect different opinions; I think it should be nurtured, but the video was a direct attack on a specific group. I don't think Abdullah al-Saeedi [the director of the video] truly understood the scope of damage the video brings to the impressionable minds of the LGBT youth.
"Human sexuality is diverse. Taking the time to understand that and study it would have been a more credible and unique opportunity to a fledging Arab director that is just starting out. We are a unique, diverse, multicultural country. Being able to respect that, regardless of our different beliefs, is truly more admirable.
"I want to end this by saying being a real man is not measured by how you sit or speak or how you dress. ... How you treat others and stand up for what is right when no one else does is what truly counts."
GLBTR UAE also said that they now hoped the incident had paved the way to further positive dialogue on LGBT issues in the United Arab Emirates.