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Monday, February 18, 2008

"Bahrain's growing gay problem"

From Gulf Daily News:
A NATIONWIDE crackdown on homosexuals could be launched in Bahrain, including tougher immigration checks to stop foreign gays entering the country. It would include a study to determine how widespread homosexuality is in Bahrain.

Parliament's foreign affairs, defence and national security committee has already backed the proposal, which would force the government to carry out the study.

It is in response to what MPs see as Bahrain's growing gay problem and foreigners found to be gay face deportation, said committee secretary Jalal Fairooz.

He said the study was being carried out despite the fact that the Education Ministry claims there are no homosexuals in schools.

"The Interior Ministry has told us that it already bans suspected homosexuals as they try entering the country from Bahrain International Airport," said committee secretary Jalal Fairooz.

However, he claimed the ministry said homosexuals pretend not to be gay by posing "manly" until they make it past immigration.

"They look manly as they come to the airport, but when they get in they return back to their unaccepted homosexual attitude," said Mr Fairooz.

"Homosexuals are found in huge numbers at hairdressing salons and beauty and massage spas, which the ministry regularly inspects."

However, he said many homosexuals were slipping through the net because the ministry was having problems determining if they were gay or not.

"Those who look homosexual or offer customers personal services are being caught by police and taken to the Public Prosecution," he said.

He described gays as "dangerous" and a "threat to our society and Islamic values".

"That's why the proposal asks the government to come up with a study on the problem and eliminate it before it increases and becomes hard to control, as more gays enter the country," he added.

Columnists and letter-writers have been having a field day:
That pink shirt of mine is definitely going in the bin, in light of Bahrain's new crackdown on gay men.

The next time I travel and return via Bahrain International Airport, I shall be speaking in the deepest voice I can muster, walking like John Wayne and keeping Sara and the kids as close to me as possible.

For, apparently, immigration officials keep an eye out for anyone they think may be gay, with a view to putting them back on the plane!

Bahrain is cracking down on what MPs say is a growing number of gays, chiefly to be found in male hair salons and in massage parlours.

I can understand the country's concern at what it sees as an increasing influx, but it also has to ask itself why this is proving such a popular destination for gays!

When I first arrived here I was 20 years younger, had a full head of hair and was much prettier than I am today, with the result that I got a great deal of unwelcome attention from the gay fraternity.

Each evening I would stand waiting for a taxi near my flat and could guarantee at least two or three offers from passing drivers, in the five to 10 minutes I would be at the kerbside - all of which, I hasten to add, were politely declined.

I have images of an airport full of overtly-masculine immigration officers making men parade up and down a white line to see if they swing their hips, or maybe they have devised some kind of wrist-o-meter, which gauges limpness?

For a nation that is populated almost exclusively by men who sport mustaches and haircuts modeled on the late Sir Freddie Mercury (of Queen fame) and who wear skirts, it is a pretty bold statement to 'Clampdown on gays'.

It sounds like Bahrain might be on the verge of becoming a new Key West!\

UPDATE: Another letter writer is a bit more supportive of the government's campaign.