Fury in the Gulf at US Embassies’ Support for LGBT Pride
Kuwait summons chargé d’affaires in protest; public in Kuwait, Bahrain, and region slams disrespect for customs and traditions
The American embassies in Bahrain and Kuwait angered many citizens and residents of the two countries when the legations posted on their Instagram and Twitter accounts about LGBT Pride Month, which is marked in the US in June.
Citizens of the two countries, and tweeters and activists in the wider Gulf, demanded that the embassies formally apologize and respect the customs and traditions in the Arab countries, in addition to the Islamic culture that forbids LGBTQ+, or what is called in Arabic the “Meem” community.
Members of the National Assembly in Kuwait, and of the Shura and Representatives Councils in Bahrain, also called on the embassies to apologize for violating diplomatic agreements requiring they respect the laws of host countries.
The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry summoned Jim Holtsnider, the US Embassy’s acting chargé d’affaires, and “handed him a memorandum confirming the State of Kuwait’s rejection of what was published” and stressing the embassy’s obligation to respect the laws and regulations of Kuwait and not to publish such tweets, “in accord with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.”
The US Embassy’s publication of support for homosexuality through its [social media] accounts is in violation of Article 41, Paragraph 1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which obliges it to respect the laws and regulations of the hosting country, and it must delete what was published and apologize
Kuwaiti MP Abdul Karim al-Kandari told The Media Line, “The US Embassy’s publication of support for homosexuality through its [social media] accounts is in violation of Article 41, Paragraph 1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which obliges it to respect the laws and regulations of the hosting country, and it must delete what was published and apologize.”
Bahraini MP Ammar Al Abbas said much the same thing.
The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Bahrain issued a statement saying, “The council is following with great displeasure the growing systematic campaigns to promote obscene homosexuality in the world, led by global forces and organizations that strive to distort human nature, destroy religious, moral and social values, and penetrate conservative societies, especially Islamic ones, to destabilize their normal values.”
Within hours of the American embassies in the two countries publishing their support for the LGBTQ+ community, social networking sites witnessed more than a million tweets and posts with hashtags, the most prominent of which was “#NoToHomosexuality” and other expressions in Arabic, and millions in the Gulf and Arab countries shared these hashtags.
The US Embassy in Bahrain did not respond by press time to inquiries from The Media Line and Bahraini media outlets asking whether it would delete the post and apologize.
The American embassies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and other Arab countries did not publish anything related to LGBT Pride Month.
The US Embassy in Kuwait’s Instagram post expressing support for homosexuality received more than 21,000 comments rejecting it, while nearly 5,000 negative comments were published on the embassy in Bahrain’s post.
The Arab Parliament − the legislative body of the Arab League − called in a statement on “all American embassies in the Arab countries to respect the privacy and culture of Arab societies and not to prejudice their religious values and societal and cultural constants, denouncing what some American embassies have done by raising the flag of homosexuals and publications to support them.”
Bahrain is a good and pure land, and there is no place for perversions and the promotion of vice and moral deviations that are rejected by human instinct, heavenly laws, the true Islamic religion, and national laws
Bahraini MP Dr. Hisham al-Ashery told The Media Line, “Bahrain is a good and pure land, and there is no place for perversions and the promotion of vice and moral deviations that are rejected by human instinct, heavenly laws, the true Islamic religion, and national laws.”
Ashery added, “The constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain is the religion of the state, Islam, and Islamic Sharia is a major source of legislation.”
Homosexuality is illegal in all the Gulf states. While the sanctions vary from one country to another, it can be imprisonment for several years in Bahrain and Kuwait, while the penalty in Saudi Arabia can be a life sentence.
Ebrahim Nonoo, the leader of the Jewish community in Bahrain, told local newspapers that “the prohibition of homosexuality is clear as stated in religious texts.”
“It is a clear law, and it is a very important law which includes the Ten Commandments that form the basis of the Jewish religion. If you go back to the Jewish and various other religions, you will find them always recommending behavior that is in line with human instinct,” Nonoo said.
Reverend Hani Aziz, the pastor of the National Evangelical Church in Bahrain, told The Media Line, “The maximization of personal freedom in Western societies and making man as if he were ‘a god himself’ led to disasters, including the disaster of homosexuality.
“Personal freedom in Western societies has led to what can be described as independence from God, so that man feels that he is his own god and is not governed by any religion or law, but rather his personal freedom, leading to global catastrophes, including homosexuality.”
Dr. Fawaz al-Jadaei, professor of law at Kuwait University, told The Media Line, “The US Embassy intends to provoke Kuwaiti society by declaring support for gays. It is a violation of the Kuwaiti constitutional and legal system, which all embassies in Kuwait must respect and not deliberately violate and introduce bad ideas of this kind. It’s a blatant challenge to all who reside in Kuwait.”
Bahraini clerics and Islamic societies issued a joint statement calling on the Foreign Ministry to summon the US ambassador, inform him of the kingdom’s refusal to promote such ideas in society, and ask him to pledge not to repeat such practices.