Dear Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum,
We haven’t met so I hope you’ll pardon this note, but as you serve as both the prime minister and president of Dubai I feel obliged to bring a matter of considerable importance to your attention: it is past time to end the criminal sanctions you impose on homosexuals, to stop their harassment by your police and, most important of all, to legalise same-sex marriage in your country. Should you fail to do this, the economic consequences could be severe.
Personally, I couldn’t care one way or the other if two people (or three or four, for that matter) wish to formalise their relationship in any way they wish, although I’d prefer the state get out of the marriage business entirely and leave that trade to clerics. Civil unions are fine and dandy, with the state at hand to adjudicate contacts and the division of property should a relationship break down. But the taking and administering of sacred vows is probably best left to those with a hotline to Heaven.
The thing is, though, your nation’s attitude in regard to homosexuality might very well jeopardise a vital commercial relationship established in 2015 between Qantas and Emirates, your state-owned airline.
As you may be aware, the Qantas CEO is a jolly little chap, Alan Joyce, who is very keen on seeing our own legal code amended to permit same-sex marriage. Indeed, Mr Joyce takes it so seriously that, only last week, he put his signature to a joint letter by a group of similarly minded business chieftains. In this cause he brought not only his personal view and signature but also, by direct implication, the heft, prestige and prominence of the company he leads.
Well here is the problem. Some 13 of Mr Joyce’s jetliners touch own every day in Dubai, their comings and goings authorised by a formal pact with Emirates. Yet going by the text of that joint letter, Mr Joyce might be inclined to scrap the pact at a moment’s notice, such would be his disgust at your nation’s institutionalised and quite vicious homophobia. The letter states:
In the globally competitive marketplace, customers are becoming more discerning and are selecting products and services from companies that better represent their values. By supporting marriage equality, businesses send a powerful message to their customers that they think fairness, equality and dignity should be available to all
Now Mr Joyce is, as you might be aware, a very smart man. He has done a fine job of turning around the fortunes of Qantas, battled the unions tooth and nail and generally made shareholders very happy. I can only assume he was unaware of Dubai’s vile laws at the time he cut that deal with Emirates. We can be certain that he knows the meaning of the word ‘hypocrisy’, and were he ever to be made aware of the treatment to which he would be subjected should he take up residence in your country, some might well construe his airline’s current association with Emirates as an example of that vice.
Consider this report from a gay Australian, who wrote in November about the perils of queer life in Dubai (as your first language is not English I have taken the liberty of underscoring the most contemptible aspects of your laws):
…for those unlucky enough to fall foul of the law, the consequences are severe.
According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, consensual gay sex in Dubai is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Because the mentality here is that gay men need to be deterred from homosexual activity, police raids of clubs and private parties are common. For a time, the authorities even patrolled the plethora of Dubai malls, searching for “obvious” signs of homosexuality.
When unsuspecting gay men are entrapped, the consequences of their sexuality are dependent on their nationality. Foreigners are often put in jail and then eventually deported, locals may have to endure hormone therapy to deal with their “problem”.
Given how Mr Joyce endorsed his fellow CEOs’ observation that “customers are becoming more discerning and are selecting products and services from companies that better represent their values” only one conclusion can be reached: should Mr Joyce ever learn of the way in which your country victimises homosexuals he might well pull Qantas out of its alliance with Emirates.
As his letter also states,
The most effective way for the diversity and inclusion policies to be supported is to exist within a national legal framework that promotes equality for all.
As I said, should Mr Joyce become aware of Dubai’s concerted oppression of homosexuals, consistency of both the moral and marketing varieties would demand that a key commercial relationship must end.
I trust you will act in accordance with common sense, legalise homosexuality, stop shooting up gays with hormones and, above all, legalise the marriage of Mohammad One to Mohammad Two.
Were an Australian reporter ever to bring your homophobic laws to Mr Joyce’s attention, he would have no other choice. After all, what man wants to be known as a hypocrite?
Editor, Quadrant Online