A very interesting and controversial episode occurred on Thursday with the publication of an article titled 'The Outsiders' in the weekly magazine The Week.
The article briefly discussed Oman’s ‘gay community’ and how they are ‘findings ways to live life the way they want to’ or something to that effect.’ I looked at the cover page with bulging eyes and the first words that popped in my head were ‘ouch’.
The piece was a brave introduction of the word ‘gay’ to the Omani public in official print, but to be honest I found the piece to be poorly written. The Week can always be counted on to introduce controversial topics and I applaud them for that. However, the topic of LGBT issues is extremely sensitive.
If you’re going to introduce it to the public for the first time, it has to be done with great care and tact. The article failed to do that and it appears to have backfired. This morning I found a big apology on their website and the article appears to have disappeared.
As a Muslim, religious scholars and interpretations of religious texts tell me that homosexuality is a disease. As a human, I respect all humans regardless of their religion, race or sexual orientation. I have gay friends from my time abroad and they are some of the nicest people I know. Reconciling faith and my view of humanity is not an easy task, and I continue to think, struggle, accept, and question constantly.
Regardless of what I believe, I don’t think Oman was ready for the piece. It was a bit graphic and it’s worth noting that Omanis in general are not comfortable with discussing their personal lives in public, let alone their sexuality. When you ignore all this and introduce a piece on same-sex relationships, you can only expect readers to get offended. We are a tolerant country, but then again we are a Muslim one. To suggest that 6-10% of the Omani population is gay was pretty stupid, even if it’s simply a suggestion. Anyway, I hope the author of the piece is safe and that Apex publishing doesn’t suffer too much because of this. My overall view? Oman wasn’t ready.