A Qatar Airways flight attendant has been fired from his job, deported, and permanently banned from Qatar after being accused of being a gay prostitute. He claims he was deported for wearing tinted moisturizer and did nothing wrong.
Qatar Airways Flight Attendant Arrested, Labeled A Prostitute, Deported
Let’s first review the facts of the case from the point of view of the cabin crew member:
- An Indonesian man named Gilbert was celebrating his 32nd birthday with four other colleagues (three males, one female) with a night out in Doha on May 14, 2023
- They had dinner at the Mondrian Hotel Doha then moved to another hotel for drinks
- While seated, a security guard approached him and said, “There is a CID officer who wishes to speak to you.”
- CID stands for Criminal Investigation Department, part of Qatar’s police service
- He and one of his friends were brought to a room where their faces were wiped and tinted moisturizer was found (facial moisturizer that also has a slight skin tint with makeup pigments, like a foundation)
- Gilbert, who has worked for Qatar Airways since 2016, was accused of being a prostitute
- Officers demanded they hand over their phones and ID cards and if they refused they would be jailed
- Officers asked them:
- “How much do you earn every night? How much if you f*** him and how much if he f*** you? I know what you’re doing.”
- There was skepticism that Gilbert could not afford a Hermes bag and belt on cabin crew wages
- Police then found shirtless pictures of Gilbert at a Bangkok Pride event, which they claimed proved he was a prostitute
- Gilbert denied he was a prostitute and was slapped by the police officer and told, “You have no rights. This is Qatar.”
- He was later fingerprinted, photographed, and made to sign a form in Arabic he could not read
- The next day, Qatar Airways informed him he was grounded
- Days later, Gilbert and his friend were deported without an official explanation
Is There More To This Story?
As the days pass, my disdain for the Qatar government grows. This is a government that supports Iran, supports Hamas, and even offers a safe haven for Hamas leaders who openly gloat on state-run TV that the ultimate goal is the annihilation of the state of Israel and the death of every Jewish person.
So it comes as no surprise that a regime that shelters and supports terrorism also has little respect for the human rights of homosexuals.
But as much as I disdain the government and leave open the possibility that the events unfolded exactly as Gilbert claims, I wonder if there might be more to the story.
Is it possible that undercover police officers were simply on the hunt for gay men and when they noticed Gilbert and his friend had what appeared to be make-up on, they detained them?
But what if there was more? The group was in a celebratory mood and went to a bar. Were they exhibiting signs of public drunkenness? Were the two men who were detained engaged in any public display of affection?
Those two things are totally off-limits in Qatar, including for straight people. If I am in Qatar, there is no way I am going to kiss my wife or hold her hand in public.
And as for the prostitution charges, might the officers have found Gilbert and his friend on Grindr or another gay dating app?
Gilbert said that several gay men that he knows — friends, acquaintances and former colleagues — have been targeted by officials on gay dating apps only for the officer to demand money from them, threatening them with arrest if they don’t comply. “This has happened more times than I can remember,” said Gilbert. “The officers make money from it.”
From this, we can infer that Gilbert uses gay dating apps. Ok, fine…but could this be why officers stopped him and seemed to target him and his friend?
What hotel did they go to for drinks? Was it a hotel known for being a gay hangout in Doha?
At this point, I’m ambivalent here. I want to believe Gilbert and I think it is disgusting that Qatar seems to target SE Asian men in sting operations but is more likely to overlook Qatari men or white visitors doing the same thing (this is Gilbert’s claim).
I also note the CID is a real force. When I was staying at the Four Seasons Doha I was warned not to leave my room with my mask off because there were often undercover police officers in the lobby or outside waiting to fine visitors who did not comply with Qatar’s strict mask ordinance. There’s a reason there is so little crime in Qatar.
It’s true that you have no rights in Qatar. I was stopped too and interrogated…not for being gay but because the passport official thought my US passport was fake (on my way out of the country…). I was questioned and held, then handed back my passport with absolutely no explanation. I got the sense that it became just cruel amusement. I wonder if the same is true, even more so, for arresting gay people in Qatar?
And I’m curious, Gilbert claimed he got the Hermes bag and belt because he comes from a wealthier family in Indonesia. Do wealthier families in Indonesia send their (gay) children to a nation that affords such immigrants no rights and strictly controls their every move? The answer may be yes…I’m just curious.
Whatever may have happened to Gilbert, he is not alone. As a visitor, you do not enjoy rights in Qatar. The regime that supports Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Republic does not take kindly to gay people or public displays of affection of any kind. You cannot be “out and proud” in Qatar. Know the risks when you visit that country and consider whether doing so is appropriate. There is no easy answer. As for Gilbert, he’s now a flight attendant at JetStar. I wish him all the best there.
(H/T: One Mile At A Time)