You too may have seen this notification of an upcoming International Conference on Gender Identity and LGBT Rights in the United Arab Emirates The May 06-07, 2021 scheduled to be hosted in Dubai, and wondered if this could be real.
A couple of English-speaking LGBT blogs correctly denounced it as fraud albeit without much investigation.
We became immediately concerned for our Muslim trans associates in Pakistan. There wasn’t any indication that the conference would be held physically in the UAE. But what if someone unknowing paid the registration fee of $420 US and traveled there? The United Arab Emirates is a federation of kingdoms without a unified code of law and a dangerous place for a trans person to be.
In 2017 a cis man and a trans woman were arrested in the capital city of Abu Dhabi for “dressing effeminately”, a crime under Sharia law. They were sentenced that same weekend to a year in prison.
Our friends in Pakistan hadn’t heard of this conference so we asked a friend who is a guest worker in the UAE about this. She was extremely dubious pointing out that the country is desperate for money and seriously lacking in business ethics. But to my surprise, she hadn’t heard anything either.
Al-bab.com reports that the conference is organized by the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology (WASET) and a look at its website show “Gender Identity and LGBT Rights” is just one of 2,373 (yes, 2,373) “international conferences” that it’s planning to hold in Dubai on the same two days in May.
WASET’s web page inviting submissions for the LGBT conference lists 15 academic papers that have apparently already been selected. The first paper listed – on patriarchy and gender discrimination in Ahdaf Soueif’s novels – sounds vaguely relevant. There are also a few discussing aspects of HIV but the rest of the list is utterly bizarre:
1. Hearing Aids Maintenance Training for Hearing-Impaired Preschool Children with the Help of Motion Graphic Tools
2. The Experiences of Hong Kong Chinese Divorced Wives in Facing the Cancer Death of Their Ex-Husbands
3. Dicotyledon Weed Quantification Algorithm for Selective Herbicide Application in Maize Crops: Statistical Evaluation of the Potential Herbicide Savings
This bizarre list goes on and on you get the idea.
Another source to which we won’t link announced the conference then in the same article outed two women who were kissing to police by name.
Human Rights Watch confirms that there have not been any changes to the patchwork of anti-transgender laws and explains why people in the region are now reluctant to communicate.
“On August 13, the UAE and Israel announced that they had agreed to the full normalization of relations, paving the way for enhanced cooperation on cybersecurity and surveillance technology and sparking concerns it could lead to increased repression domestically and regionally.”
“The peace agreement, which was brokered by the United States, was accompanied by reports of a US sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the UAE. Israel is the only other country in the Middle East to have received F-35 jets.”