Book Description

From Publishers Weekly While the mainstream media cover Middle Eastern cultural tensions over the interpretation of Islamic law and the position of women, little attention has been paid to the complicated place of same-sex affection and relationships in these countries. Whitaker, Middle East editor for the Guardian, delivers a modest but informative primer on the complex historical, religious, social and legal status of same-sex acts and identities in the Middle East. Aware of the complexity of this undertaking, he points out that words such as 'homosexual,' 'lesbian,' 'gay' and 'queer' are Western constructs and can be misleading or dangerously inaccurate when applied to non-Western cultures. Whitaker is best when describing the lives of the dozens of women and men, some of whom he interviewed, such as a young Syrian man whose therapist outed him to his family and two Saudi men who killed a third man they feared would report their relationship to authorities. He also offers a larger view of the religious and political implications of homosexuality: there's no uniform Islamic position about the legality of homosexual acts; the Iranian government will frequently use the charge of homosexuality to further stigmatize its Arab Ahwazi minority population. While Whitaker's findings aren't conclusive, this is an illuminating book on an important topic. (Nov.) Copyright ? Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Read more Review 'An extremely well-researched and well-written text that allows us an insight into the lifestyle of the gay and lesbian community in the Middle East...educates, informs and engages the reader from the outset to the last page.' Sable Magazine 'I enjoyed and learnt much from Brian Whitaker's book, which is excellent. It was inspirational to me on the challenges to international law, and the uses of nationalism to suppress dissent within countries.' Professor Fred Halliday 'This is a compelling read. It captures with detail and with disturbing accuracy the difficulties and dangers facing lesbians and gay men across the Middle East. It helps us to understand the social pressure, the sense of isolation, the anxiety and fear and trauma. And through it all we glimpse also the possibility of hope, of remarkable courage, and perhaps even in the longer term, the chance of a more open and accepting society.' Lord (Chris) Smith, former UK Secretary of State for Culture 'This is an important, timely book, and lucid to boot - a must-read for anyone who believes in human rights.' Rabih Alameddine, author of Koolaids and I, the Divine 'A fascinating insight.' Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive, Stonewall 'Brian Whitaker has given us a moving analysis of the hidden lives of Arab homosexuals. This genuinely groundbreaking investigation reveals a side of Arab and Muslim culture shrouded by the strictest taboos. Arab societies can no longer contain their cultural, religious, ethnic or sexual diversity within their traditional patriarchal definitions of the public sphere. Anyone interested in reform in the Arab world must read this book.' Mai Yamani, Research Fellow at Chatham House and author of Cradle of Islam 'It is high time this issue was brought out of the closet once and for all, and afforded a frank and honest discussion. Brian Whitaker's humane, sophisticated, and deeply rewarding book, Unspeakable Love, does exactly that.' Ali Al-Ahmed, Director of the Gulf Institute Read more See all Editorial Reviews

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