Major e-sports tournament pulled from Abu Dhabi after backlash over LGBT+ rights abuses

A first person perspective of a person playing the Ubisoft game Rainbow Six

Ubisoft has scrapped plans for a Rainbow Six Siege tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after fan outcry over LGBT+ rights.

The official Rainbow Six e-sports Twitter account shared a post on Tuesday (22 February) confirming that it had decided to move the Six Major tournament in August from Abu Dhabi to another region. The new location has yet to be disclosed.

Ubisoft said there had been an “emergence of an enthusiastic competitive Rainbow Six Siege scene” in the Middle East and North Africa region. The video game country said it initially wanted to host the e-sports tournament in the region to “highlight and celebrate” the community of local players and fans.

Ubisoft explained the initial decision to host the event in Abu Dhabi happened after “extensive discussions with our local teams in the region, the UAE government and our local e-sports partner”.

The company said all parties shared their “collective commitment” to ensuring that “anyone, of all gender identities, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds or other individual traits, would be included and welcomed” at the tournament.

“With that in mind, we also hear loud and clear that members of the international Siege community question this choice, and we have taken the decision to move the Six Major of August 2022 to another Rainbow Six esports region, with the exact location yet to be determined,” Ubisoft added.

The move comes after the Rainbow Six Siege community called on Ubisoft to move the tournament due to the UAE’s anti-LGBT+ laws.

An online petition – signed by more than 13,600 people – said the nation has “documented serious LGBTQ+ right issues in the past year, criminalising homosexuality resulting in floggings, fines, deportation, chemical castration, forced conversion therapy, honour killings, vigilante execution and more”.

The fan petition described Ubisoft’s initial decision to stage the event in the UAE as “short-sighted”, “dangerous” and “borderline insulting to our identity”.

Gay sex is illegal for men and women in the UAE under section 354 of the federal penal code, which is based on Sharia law. Punishment can include imprisonment, fines, deportation and execution.

There is also no legal recognition of same-sex relationships or trans people in the UAE.

The LGBT+ community is persecuted under the federal penal code, which follows Sharia law and each emirate also has its own legal system that criminalises the queer community.

Article 80 of the Abu Dhabi criminal code punishes “unnatural sex with another person” with up to 14 years in prison, according to Human Dignity Trust.