Cirque Du Bai

Cirque du Soleil is the latest act announcing plans to boycott North Carolina:

The Canadian-based circus company Cirque du Soleil is cancelling upcoming stops in North Carolina by two of its touring shows to protest a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community.

The company said Friday that it will scrap plans for “Ovo” to play Greensboro from April 20-24 and Charlotte from July 6-10, and “Toruk — The First Flight,” which was scheduled to play Raleigh from June 22-26.

The company said in a statement that it “strongly believes in diversity and equality for every individual and is opposed to discrimination in any form.”

North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” – passed by the legislature in an emergency sitting, no less – is appalling and almost certainly unconstitutional.  (Mississippi’s “religious freedom” legislation isn’t much better.) Even if you think boycotting the state goes too far, you can’t deny that after Indiana went though a similar mess not long ago, its legislators should have known what they were getting into.

But now that Cirque du Soleil is taking an admirable stand for gay rights, will it strike this upcoming show from its schedule?

Cirque du Soleil, the world’s most iconic live production, is coming back to Dubai.

Set to take over the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, the company’s signature show, Varekai, promises to deliver a state-of-the-art performance of acrobatics, dance and circus-like acts.

The show, running from September 16 to 24, is the first in the UAE for three years, and has earned rave reviews around the globe.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry for LGBT rights in Dubai:

Article 177 of the Penal Code of Dubai imposes imprisonment of up to 10 years on consensual sodomy. The most common depiction in the local media of LGBT people involves foreigners, disease, and sex crimes such as rape.

One such case involved the kidnapping and rape of a sixteen-year-old French Swiss boy by a group of men.[6] Initially, the police treated the victim as a suspect and the fear of being charged under Article 177 prompted the boy and his family to leave the country.[6] Eventually no formal charges were brought against the teenager who returned to testify against his rapists. The story generated international media attention with government representatives defending the criminal laws against homosexuality as, “This is a conservative society. Homosexuality, conducted homosexuality is an illegal act. And we are not ashamed of that.” The boy’s mother had launched an international campaign to boycott Dubai for the treatment of her son, but ended the campaign when the government agreed to certain demands.[7] The boy was also awarded AED15 million ($4 million USD) in civil compensation.[8]

In 2008 two lesbian tourists were given a one-month jail sentence and then deported for engaging in public displays of affection while visiting a beach.[9] The trial, reportedly the first of its kind, prompted the police to create a special task force to combat homosexuality and other “indecent acts” from taking place on the beaches.[10]

The legal and social sanctions against LGBT people mean that no formal LGBT organizations or nightclubs exist in Dubai. One nightclub called the Diamond Club sponsored a special night for the LGBT community, featuring a British cross dressing DJ, only to be shut down by the government.[11]

In 2011, two men were caught having sex in a car and were sentenced to a year each in prison. Both men were deported following their prison terms.[12]

In 2012, police arrested two Indian men for having consensual sex in a public toilet at a bus station. Both were jailed for six months each and were deported following their prison terms.[13] In the same year, a 28-year-old British man who drunkenly had sex with another man in public were both sentenced to three years in jail followed by deportation.[14] On 21 March 2012, Police raided and broke up a gay party consisting of 30 men.[15] On 7 June 2012, a Belgian man admitted to police that he was in a homosexual relationship with a Filipino. He was arrested and jailed for a year to be followed by deportation.[16]

A Cirque du Soleil show is also playing in Moscow right now, even after the Russian Duma voted unanimously to outlaw “gay propaganda.”

I guess an argument can be made that a highly publicized boycott of an American state is more likely to get results than boycotting a Middle Eastern country. But for the likes of Bryan Adams (who made a big show of boycotting Mississippi not long after playing Egypt, which makes the Magnolia State look like Provincetown) it sure seems like some soft bigotry of low expectations is at work here, as though we can’t possibly expect these people to stop being so homophobic.

The ball’s in your court now, Cirque du Soleil.  Do your concerns about discrimination and tolerance apply everywhere, or are you just jumping on a bandwagon?

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