Fans and LGBTQ advocates turn on Beyoncé over concert in Dubai: ‘Really disappointing’

American music star Beyoncé found herself in trouble with fans after she performed at a concert in the United Arab Emirates, a country known for severe restrictions on LGBT rights.

Beyoncé headlined a private $24 million gala in Dubai at the luxurious Atlantis The Royal Hotel, marking her first live performance in five years.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the UAE have faced prosecution under public decency laws for acts such as cross-dressing and kissing in public. Additionally, homosexuality is illegal in the country, and under Islamic law, same-sex sexual activity is punishable by death.

While many fans and activists were happy to see the music icon return to the stage, others expressed disappointment with the singer’s chosen venue.

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Beyoncé accepts the award for Best R&P Performance. B for “Black Parade” at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Sunday, March 14, 2021 (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
(AP Newsroom)

Speaking to The Telegraph on Sunday, LGBT Alliance co-founder Bev Jackson said the British advocacy group was “very disappointed” by the concert.

“I don’t know, if I already had $500M I don’t think an extra $35M would be enough for me to go perform the album I dedicated to my gay uncle in a country where being gay is still punishable by death,” Insider Hook managing editor Bonnie Sternberg tweeted.

In a conversation with BBC Newsbeat, freelance journalist Abigail Firth said the ceremony was a “misleading choice” for Beyoncé whose work “condemns gay culture”.

She added, “She’s obviously a millionaire anyway, she didn’t really need to do that, she didn’t really need the money.”

Gay bar owner Lawrence Patron said it was “really disappointing” to hear the performance and questioned whether Beyoncé had considered LGBTQ law in the UAE.

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Beyoncé and Rihanna attend Rihanna's 3rd Annual Diamond Ball benefiting the Clara Lionel Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street on September 14, 2017, in New York City.

Beyoncé and Rihanna attend Rihanna’s 3rd Annual Diamond Ball benefiting the Clara Lionel Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street on September 14, 2017, in New York City.
(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Clara Lionel Foundation)

“We need to hear from Beyoncé herself how she feels about the situation our community is facing there,” he said. “Because she has fans all over the world who adore her, some will be upset and some will think it’s a great thing.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race star Kitty Scott-Klaus also tweeted about the controversy, writing “Hey I have a question.. Can anyone explain why everyone canceled David Beckham the other month but now celebrate Beyoncé for their Dubai performance? It’s a one-for-one, one-for-one rule?” “

Like Beyoncé, Beckham faced intense backlash for signing a huge deal with the government of Qatar to announce the FIFA World Cup. Beckham had previously received praise within the LGBTQ community, appearing on several high-profile gay magazine covers.

Fans and critics celebrated Beyoncé’s latest album, Renaissance, for its tribute to black gay culture. The album is dedicated to her children and husband, as well as her late uncle Johnny and members of the LGBTQ community who helped expand black culture.

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Beyoncé attends a movie premiere

Beyoncé attends the premiere of “The Lion King”
(Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney)

“Thank you so much to my Uncle Johnny. He was my godmother and the first person to introduce me to so much of the music and culture that served as inspiration for this album,” Beyoncé wrote prior to the album’s release. “Thank you to all the pioneers who created the culture, to all the fallen angels whose contributions have not been recognized for a very long time.”

Beyoncé has championed LGBTQ rights throughout her extensive career. She has supported many LGBT artists, including singer-songwriter MNEK, Big Freedia, and Messy Mya. She has also publicly supported R&B star Frank Ocean after he came out publicly as being bisexual.

Additionally, Beyoncé has been an outspoken advocate for marriage equality, promoting the “Y’all Means All” campaign targeting North Carolina’s “bathroom law”. Trans actress Laverne Cox was also hired as the face of Ivy Park, her sportswear line.

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