Jennifer Lopez criticised for performing in Dubai despite anti-gay laws
Jennifer Lopez has been criticised for performing in Dubai, where homosexuality is outlawed, despite her longstanding LGBTQ+ allyship.
J-Lo was invited to perform at the opening of a new luxury hotel for fellow celebrities over the weekend, with the guest list including Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell and Vanessa Hudgens. She was reportedly paid approximately $5 million, (£3.9 million), for her performance.
Dubai, a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates, has some of the toughest restrictions on LGBTQ+ rights in the world. Homosexuality is illegal and same-sex sexual activity is punishable by imprisonment, outlining a minimum term of six months and no maximum. The court can impose any sentence in line with the country’s constitution, and capital punishment is a permitted outcome for married people.
As such, J-Lo has been slammed for performing in Dubai despite its repression of LGBTQ+ people. LGBTQ+ rights activist Peter Tatchell told The Sun that it was “very sad that a long-time LGBTQ ally like Jennifer Lopez is prepared to put money before human rights.”
“Her performance will collude with the regime’s homophobia, misogyny and generalised abuse of human rights — that’s not the kind of thing Jennifer Lopez supports. She shouldn’t be going,” Tatchell added.
“The Dubai regime is using her to project a more liberal image. It’s a cynical exercise and it’s shameful that she is going along with it.”
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Previously, J-Lo has been an vocal supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2014, she scooped the GLAAD Vanguard Award at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.
In her speech, she thanked her LGBT+ fans, saying: “I have to give it up for my lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender fans because they be loyal.”
The same year, she proved herself as an advocate of equal marriage, tweeting: “Congratulations England and Wales. Gay marriage is legal today #equalmarriage.”
And after the 2016 shooting at LGBT+ nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, J-Lo released a song with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda as a tribute. The song “Love Make the World Go Round” raised money for the victims of the shooting.
Last year, Beyoncé faced similar criticism when she performed at the opening of Dubai hotel Atlantis The Royal, reportedly earning $24 million (£19.4 million).
However, despite the outcry from fans, she was defended by RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 judge Ts Madison who argued that she just “went and got her bag.”
“Beyoncé is a superstar,” Madison said. “People go to Dubai for many different reasons, and a lot of LGBTQIA people go to Dubai for a lot of those reasons. You know, Beyoncé went there for some of those same reasons. She went there to make her money.”
“Everybody that loves Beyoncé and everybody that knows Beyoncé knows that Beyoncé loves the community,” she added. “And not just loves the community. She dedicated an entire album which is, like, the album of the year to her fans, to the people that she loved. So, I personally saw it as she went and got her bag.”
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