November 28, 2005

In Dubai: compulsory hormone injections for gay men.

Andrew Sullivan links to this disturbing news report from Dubai:
The Interior Ministry said police raided a hotel chalet earlier this month and arrested 22 men from the Emirates as they celebrated the mass wedding ceremony - one of a string of recent group arrests of homosexuals here.

The men are likely to be tried under Muslim law on charges related to adultery and prostitution, said Interior Ministry spokesperson Issam Azouri.

Outward homosexual behaviour is banned in the United Arab Emirates and the gay group wedding has alarmed leaders of this once-isolated Muslim country as it grapples with a sweeping influx of western residents and culture.....

The arrested men have been questioned by police and were undergoing psychological evaluations on Saturday. Azouri said the Interior Ministry's department of social support would try to direct the men away from homosexual behaviour, including treatment with male hormones.

"Because they've put society at risk they will be given the necessary treatment, from male hormone injections to psychological therapies," he said.


Jake said...

Well, that is more humane than stoning gays to death as they normally do.

Some progress is being made.

mcg said...

Yeah, but Bush is still worse... right?

Ann Althouse said...

I wonder what hormone they have in mind. Testosterone? They'll just learn it doesn't work. This is like a medical experiment where the subjects don't get to volunteer (which is obviously wrong too). If they take a scientific look at the results, this interlude could lead to more enlightened treatment.

Also, once they start treating it as a medical condition, it's not really sin anymore. From there, it's no long before you see your treatment doesn't work, so you can't use it. At least they've got a chance of getting on the science track as opposed to the religion track.

whit said...

This story does not bode well for Michael Jackson's future in that part of the world.

Bruce Hayden said...

I concur with Ann. Testosterone won't do any good whatsoever. My understanding is that male homosexuality is a result of gay mens' brains being wired somewhat differently - in certain respects more like a womans.

If there ever were a testosterone effect, it was reasonably early in utero. One theory is that a lowered level of the hormone at certain stages of brain development results in a female sexual orientation (i.e. it is the male hormone at these points that wires a brain to prefer women to men, and without enough testosterone, the default, female orientation towards men, prevails).

My guess is that the major effect of testosterone treatments will be to just increase their sex drive, with no effect on their orientation.

But, hey, it beats stoning.

Palladian said...

Isn't Sullivan quite open about his use of hormonal therapy as part of his HIV treatment? That would seem to discredit the notion that homosexuality is a result of a hormonal deficiency, though I don't expect a bunch of punishing imams to care much about the science.

In the Arab world (and elsewhere) it's common to see only the passive partner in homosexual sex as deficient in some way (this applies to men only; in much of the Muslim world, women officially have no sexuality). Male homosexual sex is actually fairly commonly practiced by otherwise heterosexual men; as long as they are on "top", their manhood and piety is does not come into question. But it's also not talked about (like so many other things in the strange schizophrenic modern Muslim world) and as the push to consider homosexuality as anything other than a source of release or pleasure becomes stronger, we will see more and tougher punishment being meted out. The problem with these men was not that they engaged in gay sex, it's that they were treating with some sort of emotional depth that which is only supposed to happen in darkness and secrecy.

XWL said...

Palladian is right, this bizarre notion that wanting to screw another man is O.K. (as Gertrude Stein might say, A hole, is a hole, is a hole), but wanting to love another man is a mortal sin and capital crime speaks to deep seated craziness within that culture that won't be easily resolved.

This would seem to be an attempt by the officials in Dubai to seem tough and compassionate depending on their audience, but they come across as crazed and delusional.

vbspurs said...

Quoting from the article:

Dubai - More than two dozen gay Arab men - arrested at what police called a mass homosexual wedding - could face government-ordered hormone treatments, five years in jail and a lashing, authorities said on Saturday.

You know, ONCE just once, I'd like to hear gay people go against such governments, practises, and customs in that part of the world, with as much brio as they do against Roman Catholic hierarchies, Western governments, and Dubya.

But noooooooo. Nary a peep from that community about this.

If PFLAG don't Girlcott the UAE tomorrow, I'm never buying their t-shirts again.


downtownlad said...

What are you talking about Victoria? This is all over the gay media. As is almost every other incidence of gay bashing by Arab governments (such as the Iranian hangings). Where did you come up with your false information that gay people are silent on these matters???

tcd said...

Really Victoria, that was a cheapshot and blatant gay-baiting. What do you expect the gay community to do? Form a Gay Beret commando group and invade the UAE? You say they should girlcott the UAE. How? By refusing to buy gasoline from the UAE (I assume oil is big export product; I don't know what products the UAE actually produces.)?

mcg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mcg said...

Well, I suppose those Persian Gulf GLBTG Party Cruises (or PGGLBTGPCs, of course) are going to have to stop now.


Elizabeth said...


I hate to be blunt, but you're talking out of your ass here. On what planet do gay people not care about the persecution of gay men and lesbians? On Rightwing Fantasy Planet, it seems. I enjoy your biting wit, but you might take a moment to check your facts before going with any little kneejerk assumption that pops into your head.

Did you miss the fact that it's Andrew Sullivan, a big homo blogger, that Ann links to? Might that not have made you pause a moment before hitting "publish"?

Elizabeth said...


I'm not sure there's any big improvement in moving from the world of "sin" to "medical condition," considering the heinous things that have been done in the name of treating medical conditions -- think back to your post on lobotomies last week. I'd wager that Mengele thought of himself as treating "medical conditions." I wouldn't bet on the authorities in Dubai coming to logical conclusions when their testorone therapy fails. They'll just move on to something else.

vbspurs said...

If PFLAG don't Girlcott the UAE tomorrow, I'm never buying their t-shirts again.

You'd think...YOU'D THINK...this was a dead-giveaway about the kind of comment I was attempting.

And given my reputation as the self-proclaimed resident Althouse wag, to boot.

Ah well.


Elizabeth said...

No, Victoria, I don't buy your "it was irony!" backtracking. The rest of your comment (just once, ONCE) was not ironic in the least. You may have added your standard little wink and nod at the end, but that doesn't change a thing about the substance of your accusation.

vienalga said...

I wonder if any of the commenters have lived in or even visited the UAE. If they had, they might be a little less vehement. This is in no way excusing Dubai's assinine decision, only to add some perspective.

Dubia is not Iran or Saudi Arabia. The local women there have every opportunity to attend universities and pursure careers. There are women now running major businesses and parts of the government. I have taught many of them, and they are the strength of the country. Alas, these freedoms for gays are a long way distant. One thing at a time.

I also agree with those who got to the real crux of the matter: homosexual sex is accepted as long as the hole is a hole, but once real feelings emerge, the fear factor goes ballistic. I had military officers in uniform who would walk around campus holding hands and smiling. Can you imagine that on an American military base?

So, while I agree that their actions are deplorable, ignorant, and ultimately futile, they are not the "punishing imams" of our own deepest fears.

Ann Althouse said...

Elizabeth: "I'm not sure there's any big improvement in moving from the world of "sin" to "medical condition.""

True, of course. I'm just noticing that there is hope that people operating within science will make some progress through reason.

I should note that people operating within religion might also find a good path, toward love, mercy, and compassion.

(Nice to see you back, Elizabeth. Hope all is well.)

Ann Althouse said...

Elizabeth: "I don't buy your "it was irony!" backtracking."

You came to the right blog to say that.

Vienalga: Thanks for that info.

wildaboutharrie said...

There is some anticipation that a "gay gene" will be uncovered - that is, that there may be a "gayability" in genetic makeup that gets switched on by other factors (maybe the hormones in utero question). A friend, a woman, is gay, as is her fraternal twin - a man. I wonder how often that happens. Then again, you can have identical twins, one gay, one straight.

This is better than stoning, but the creep factor is huge.

Elizabeth said...

I see in a news report today (in the gay press!) that Dubai's emir is distancing himself from the story, saying the Interior Ministry guy quoted about the hormones was speaking for himself. No word, however, on dropping the "up to five years' jail time and lashings" should the men be found guilty of homosexuality. Just writing that last phrase makes me choke.

Ann, I take your hopes for religion and science with the spirit you intend. I'll balance my cynicism with the belief that it's a good thing to open one's heart to possibility.

Also, Ann, thanks for asking--all is as well as can be for now. I'll be leaving Massachusetts for New Orleans in two weeks, where daily life is a series of little difficulties, and the big picture is a house of cards. Everything is connected--the economy to housing and redevelopment to improved flood control to Congress to addressing state and local corruption.

Daryl Herbert said...

Male hormones? That's not going to work.

In England, back a few decades ago, they "treated" male homosexuals with female hormones. Alan Turing, one of the first leaders in computer science, was subject to those and committed suicide because of it.

Giving a man testosterone doesn't make him less horny, and certainly doesn't alter his sexual orientation (otherwise, many gay men here would take it to become straight--after all, who would want to be an outcast with a "deviant" sexual orientation? If there was a get-out-of-gay-free card, many homosexuals would take it, given societal discrimination and whatnot. Maybe less so today than 20 years ago, but any technology available to Arab countries today was available to us decades ago.)


Your post is along the lines of the "why don't feminists condemn X? Feminists are such hypocrites for not condemning X." When in fact many feminists have condemned X. It's a waste of bytes. You're hurting the signal/noise ratio of the internet.

Daryl Herbert said...

I think it's common for Arab men to hold hands (and even kiss on the cheek) without it being a signal that they are having gay sex.