Oman: Newspaper issues front page apology for publishing a sympathetic article about gay life

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A newspaper in Oman has printed a front page apology for a sympathetic article it published last week on the story of a young gay man in the country.

TheWeek published an article last week with the headline “The Outsiders,” which traced the story of a young man living as a member of the country’s underground gay scene.

The BBC reports the article made suggestions that Oman was more tolerant about people’s sexuality than other Gulf states, even though the country still criminalises homosexuality.

A member of the Shura Council, Tawfiq al-Lawati, tweeted that the article was advocating homosexuality and that it suggested Oman was a safe haven for gay people.

He called for the information ministry to take immediate action against the paper for breaking the country’s press code.

This week, the entire front page of the English language version of the paper has been given over to a formal apology.

It reads: “TheWeek places on record that there was never any intention to knowingly or unknowingly cause harm, offend or hurt the sentiments of the people with our article last week, and we deeply and sincerely regret the article.

“TheWeek issues a public apology to our readers whose opinion we respect.”

The maximum penalty for homosexuality in Oman is three years in prison, whereas in other Gulf states, longer sentences, flogging and even the death penalty are advocated.

Oman is among a list of countries that ban or limit the right of HIV-positive people to their territories, including Colombia, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sudan, and Yemen.

Last year, two men spotted “fondling” each other in a parked car near a beach in Jumeirah, Dubai were sentenced yesterday to three months prison terms each to be followed by deportation, reported the National, an Emirates based daily.

The two, a 27-year-old Filipino salon receptionist named by the initials “RS”, and a 32-year-old Omani named by the initials “AA”, were arrested by the police just after 3am on April 9 following a tip off from a member of the public.

In 2008, Conservative MP Alan Duncan proposed to his boyfriend, James Dunseath, on Valentine’s Day during a holiday in Oman.