Sample Research Paper on Homosexuality in the Middle East

Homosexuality in the Middle East
Description of the Problem
Homosexuality is a problem because society discriminates against homosexuals by treating them as different. Consequently, homosexuals are considered deviant because they are the minority and the majority has changed the concept of homosexuality into a social construction. Heterosexuality is considered normal because the idea has been established and regarded as suitable by society. Homosexuals in the Middle East are discriminated against in three major areas: ideological (through Islamic beliefs), legal (homosexual activities are outlawed), and occupational (homosexuals cannot advance in their careers). One of the main reasons why homosexuality is a social problem in the Middle East is because many people in the region profess the Islamic faith. There is a generalization, with mosques and churches in the Middle East explaining homosexuality as an unnatural act. Because it is deemed wrong by the Quran and the bible and because these scriptures are interpreted in a manner that suits the cultural norms, homosexuals are treated as outcasts in the Middle East. The second reason why homosexuality is a problem is the nature versus nurture debate. Those opposing homosexuality argue that homosexuals choose to be the way they are and are not born homosexuals (Ungar 45).
In sociology, the structural-functionalism theory can better explain homosexuality and the mistreatment that homosexuals are forced to bear. According to the theory, all the social structures in the society are considered to be either perfect or near-perfect, and it is the people that are considered the problem. This means that it is how people behave that is the root cause of social problems and disrupts the established social structures. The majority is always powerful, and it is they who decide what is normal and what is considered deviant. Consequently, homosexuals are considered deviant, and as are a result they face social stigma. Functionalists oppose social change and perceive change as bad. To them, they believe that they have already created a standard unitary system and any changes to that system will disrupt everything. Homosexuality as a problem can therefore be explained as an attempt by society to safeguard the institutions that have already been created for fear that permitting homosexuality will have a negative effect on society as a whole.
Geographical Area affected
Homosexuality in the Middle East remains a major social problem. Many of the countries in the Middle East region are Islamic countries that universally condemn homosexuality as an act that contradicts Allah`s creation. Homosexuals in many countries in the region are punished by death irrespective of whether the country implements Sharia Law or not. However, despite the death penalty on homosexuality, homosexuals in the region are increasingly coming out from their hiding places into the streets in many Middle East countries. For example, in Kuwait, it is not uncommon to spot groups of homosexuals walking together. They are easily identified based on their dressing code. Homosexuals from the male gender in Kuwait put on tight clothes; they shape their eyebrows, powder their faces, and add a little lipstick. Those from the female gender dress like males, with short bristly hairs, chains, and studs. Islam members of parliament in Kuwait have often called for the creation of a special police unit to be responsible for upholding morals in the country. It is not only Kuwait that is dealing with this major social problem. Lebanon is struggling with homosexuals who purport to be exercising their perceived rights. However, homosexuals in Lebanon have more freedom compared to other countries in the Middle East. In Lebanon, there are specific bars and nightclubs that serve only homosexual clients. In addition, Lebanon created the first association for homosexuals in the Middle East- the Helem Foundation- created in 2004 with the goal of promoting homosexual rights in Lebanon and supporting the ministry of health in creating AIDS awareness in Lebanon (Wing 2890).
Another Middle East country where homosexuals have gained prominence is Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuals are punished by flogging, life imprisonment and in some cases, they are beheaded. Despite these punishments, homosexuals in the Middle East are increasingly becoming bolder and taking concrete measures to promote their lifestyle in public. Whereas there are no particular places set aside for homosexuals to congregate, they often meet in particular places. For example, in Jeddah, there are specific grocery stores and malls that homosexuals use to meet each other. In addition, it is said that there is a street in Jeddah where potential customers can drive and pick up homosexual prostitutes. To show their defiance, homosexuals in Saudi Arabia have even made bold attempts at homosexual marriages. For instance, in 2004, Saudi Arabia police conducted a raid on a gay wedding in the City of Medina where two men were about to get married. Similarly, in 2010, police arrested 110 men in a separate wedding party, of whom 30 were eventually convicted. This evidence indicates that the problem of homosexuality is set to increase in the Middle East in the future, and it appears governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations are doing little as homosexuals increasingly exert their lifestyle in the community (Whitaker 1).
Challenges Posed by the social problem
The main challenge associated with homosexuality in the Middle East is the discrimination of homosexual individuals. Many people in the Middle East feel that the family unit comprising of the father, mother, and children are under threat because of homosexuals. Furthermore, there is the widespread belief that homosexuality poses serious risks to society including, increased spread of sexually transmitted infections, and reduced population growth rates given that homosexuals lack the ability to naturally give birth to children.
Other than, the challenges that homosexuality poses to the family unit in the Middle East, homosexuality equally poses a serious human rights challenge in the Middle East. As already noted, homosexuality is a criminal offense in many Middle East countries. Counties such as Iran, Sudan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Qatar punish homosexuals by death (Ungar 22). Chronic human rights abuses and horrendous incidences such as the organized murder of many gay men in Iraq in 2009 are rarely captured in the International media. Homosexuals have been forced t hide because they face many threats including religious extremism. Similarly, in the countries where homosexuals are punished by death, homosexuality is in most cases politicized to benefit those in power (Wing 77). Other people may be accused of being homosexuals leading to their execution without being tried or without evidence. In addition, given that homosexuality remains controversial in its nature, politicians take advantage of this to divert the attention of the masses from more important subjects. Many people in the Middle Eastern counties argue that homosexuality is a problem in western countries. They argue that sexuality has been turned into rhetoric, illustrating the differences between Western and Eastern cultures. In this context, a number of scholars note that the violence against homosexuals and homophobia in the Middle East is a sign of rebellion against the infiltration of western ideals and culture. Others argue that the increased violence against homosexuals in the Middle East reflects religious extremism as people fight for what they believe in by abusing others. Whereas homosexuality is a problem globally, including in the United States, in the Middle East homosexuality has been used as an excuse to arbitrarily arrest, detain, torture, and kill hundreds of individuals. Homosexuals in Middle Eastern countries are constantly fighting for their existence and their rights (Wing 2898). It is only through stopping these human rights abuses that the Middle Eastern society will truly attain peace.
How the Problem Is Being Addressed by Non-Governmental Organizations and Government Sectors
Given that homosexuality is a social problem that deals with individuals` sexuality, businesses have a limited role in addressing the problem. As a result, this section will focus primarily on the NGO and government sectors.
Government Sector
The government sector has done little to address the problem of homosexuality in the Middle Eastern region. Apart from imposing corporal punishment such as lashing and death penalty on homosexuals, less has been done to provide legal protection to the homosexual community. The few legal protections for homosexuals are mere legal loopholes. For instance, in Iraq, homosexuals are punished by death. However, less severe punishments are available for children and people of unsound minds who engage in homosexual acts. It is only the Israeli government that has put in place adequate legal protection for homosexuals. Homosexuals in Israel have laws protecting them from discrimination and same-sex marriage is recognized. The failure of governments in the Middle East to accord legal protection to homosexuals explains why this community suffers from horrendous human rights abuses.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
Non-governmental organizations have been at the forefront in championing the rights of the homosexual community in the Middle East by creating social movements. Despite their efforts, the Middle East region has remained intolerant to this social change. Today, many Middle Eastern countries do not even allow the subject of homosexuality to be discussed openly. This has made the efforts of NGOs to address the problem even more difficult. One of the leading homosexual social movements in the region is a group known as HELEM based in Lebanon. The movement is largely accepted in Lebanon and organizes regular conferences on issues affecting homosexuals. The movement has even organized demonstrations to protest violence against homosexuals. In addition, notwithstanding the hostility of Middle Eastern countries to homosexuals, underground social movements for homosexuals exist, and they occasionally organize meetings. These meetings are in most cases supported by NGOs, international human rights groups, and people outside the region. Similarly, there is growing pressure from external sources including expatriates, the international homosexual community, and foreign governments and human rights organizations for the recognition of homosexuals` rights in the Middle East.
How the Problem Impacts the Sectors and what these Sectors Can Do
Given that, homosexual marriages are illegal in the Middle East; this negatively affects business in the region. For example, if homosexuals were legally allowed to marry, businesses would have benefited in terms of selling flowers, wedding gowns, rings, and many other products that couples spend on their wedding. In addition, businesses engaged in wedding planning would also best from homosexual weddings. As the demand for wedding services increases, the economy also grows and more jobs are created. Businesses in other countries such as New York, the United States have benefited significantly from the legalization of gay marriages (Wicker 1). In addition, the fact that the homosexual community in the Middle East holds their gatherings in secret locations, hotels, and conference facilities is losing revenue from these customers. Given the potential benefits from homosexual marriages, the business sector should be at the forefront in lobbying for homosexual rights in the Middle East.
Governments in the Middle East feel embarrassed by homosexuality and they have encouraged punitive measures to discourage the problem in society. However, given that homosexuality is a problem of sexual identity, this approach cannot help in addressing the problem. As already noted, homosexual groups are operating underground despite punitive measures (Meehan 1). The best approach governments in the Middle Eastern region should use in addressing the problem is by enacting legislation that will ensure that homosexuals are given their rights and recognized as members of society.
Nongovernmental Organizations
Not for profit, organizations have a larger role to play in addressing the social problem of homosexuality in the Middle East. With the resistance in the region to accept homosexuality as a social change, it is important for NGOs to work with other stakeholders and respond to issues faced by the homosexual community. NGOs should raise awareness among community members in the Middle East on homosexuality and foster an environment where these people can be accepted as part of the community. To achieve this, the government must be convinced to support this course through appropriate legislation that creates a legal framework for the protection of homosexuals’ rights (Whitaker 2).
In conclusion homosexuality in the Middle East, and indeed the world over is a significant social change that cannot be wished away. The government, society, businesses, and nonprofit sectors have to recognize homosexuality as part of the social change process and it cannot be separated from it.

Works Cited
Meehan, Sumayyah. “Homosexuality in the Middle East: The Muslim Observer.”, 2007. Web. 30 Mar 2014. <>
Ungar, Mark. State Violence and Lgbt Rights. New York: Routledge, 2002. Print.
Whitaker, Brian. “The ongoing battle for gay rights in the Arab world.” The Middle East Channel, 2012. Web. 30 Mar 2014. <>
Wicker, Alden. “How Would Legalizing Gay Marriage Affect the Economy?” LearnVest, 2014. Web. 31 Mar 2014. <>.
Wing, Adrien. “Twenty-First-Century Loving: Nationality, Gender, and Religion in the Muslim World.” Gender, and Religion in the Muslim World (January 24, 2008). Fordham Law Review, 76. (2008): 2895. Print.