Madonna performs on the MDNA opening
night in Israel (Pic: Frank Micelotta)
Madonna has been given the thumbs up by members of the United Arab Emirates’ gay community for putting on a show with gay imagery and themes in a region that is traditionally unfriendly to LGBT people.
The star performed her first-ever concerts in the Gulf at the Yas Island Stadium in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on Sunday and Monday, just days after kicking off her MDNA world tour in Israel.
Around 25,000 people watched the star dance with topless male dancers wearing high heels and sing with backdrops that highlighted homophobic bullying and included gay couples kissing.
‘Shamil’, a member of the UAE LGBT group and Gulf region editor of GayMiddleEast.com, told Gay Star News that the star “didn’t hold back”.
He said that the provocative show included “strong and clear messages about LGBT rights”.
He added: “Perhaps Madonna is so far the only artist who portrayed and supported LGBT rights in the UAE. Last year I attended [a] Scissor Sisters concert and they didn’t or couldn’t do anything.”
Homosexuality is illegal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Possible punishment includes imprisonment, fines, deportation, and the death penalty as well as hormone treatment and chemical castration.
In March, Madonna was threatened with being charged with contravening St. Petersburg’s controversial “promotion of homosexuality” law when she performs in the Russian city in August.
The star responded defiantly, calling the law a “ridiculous atrocity” and insisting that she will “come to St. Petersburg to speak up for the gay community, to support the gay community”.
With 84 currently confirmed dates, Madonna’s MDNA tour will also visit Asia, Europe and the Americas this year and is expected to be extended into 2013.