Metro Weekly

Rebel Wilson Criticized for Traveling to Anti-Gay Dubai

LGBTQ actress accused of hypocrisy for attending Beyonce concert in Middle Eastern nation where same-sex activity is criminalized.

Rebel Wilson (right) and her partner Ramona Agruma in Dubai – Photo: Instagram.

Actress Rebel Wilson, who came out as a member of the LGBTQ community last year is being slammed by critics over alleged hypocrisy for promoting her recent trip to Dubai, even though the United Arab Emirates criminalizes homosexuality.

The Pitch Perfect, The Hustle, and Senior Year star, and her fiancée, Ramona Agruma, were among a host of celebrities who traveled to the United Arab Emirates to attend a star-studded Beyoncé concert at the Atlantis The Royal hotel, reports Page Six. 

She also reportedly co-hosted the opening of the restaurant Nobu by the Beach, which is located in the hotel. 

“Atlantis The Royal is BEYond! What a weekend with BEY! @atlantistheroyal,” the 42-year-old actress captioned a video she posted to Instagram that showed her and Agruma enjoying the hotel’s amenities and dancing at the concert.

But critics soon slammed the actress for traveling to a country where same-sex sexual activity is technically punishable by death under law — although there has been no recorded case of a person executed for breaking that specific law.

“Gee Rebel. You do know that it’s the death penalty in Dubai for homosexuality?? Supporting such a country is really really poor form, especially as a member of that community,” one follower wrote, adding the emoji signifying “mind blown.”

“Human rights? LGBTQ? Unfollowing now,” wrote another.

“Aren’t You a member of the LGBTQ+ community? The hypocrisy of it All,” noted a third Instagram user.

“I’m so mad about this. Don’t (sic) Rebel knows that under UAE law same-sex sexual activity is punishable by the death penalty! Why are Rebel showing her LGBTQ fans this advertising?!?!” wrote another user.

Under UAE’s 2021 penal code, same-sex activity between adult males is criminalized, as are more vaguely-defined acts such as public displays of affection, gender-nonconformity and cross-dressing, and campaigns or advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community, according to the global watchdog group Human Rights Watch. One particular article in the penal code criminalizes any “flagrant indecent act” and any statements or actions that offend “public morals,” with violators being punished by a fine and potential jail time, with up to three months’ imprisonment for repeat offenses.

Additionally, last year, the UAE government reportedly pressured Amazon to restrict UAE residents’ ability to search for LGBTQ-related items, books, or symbols on its website.

Wilson and Agruma, who appear to have traveled to Dubai with their infant daughter for this trip, have traveled the world since going public with their relationship — which coincided with Wilson’s coming out last year — and have not been shy about showing affection when together.

However, a Page Six source claims the two women did not appear to engage in any such public displays of affection, although Wilson’s video shows the two women dancing and hugging each other at the concert.

While Wilson has received backlash due to her membership within the LGBTQ community, she is not the only celebrity to be criticized for attending the concert and allowing the UAE to “whitewash” its various human rights abuses.

As the news source Middle East Eye has reported, even BeyoncĂ© has been criticized for hypocrisy by agreeing to perform in the UAE, and for cutting out songs from her new album, Renaissance — which celebrates Black and queer culture, and was even dedicated to the singer’s uncle Jonny, a gay man who died of AIDS-related complications — during her 90-minute set.

LGBTQ activists in the Middle East lamented a “missed opportunity” on the singer’s part to use her platform to elevate LGBTQ visibility.

“I’m not disappointed that she performed in Dubai. I’m disappointed it didn’t feature anything to do with her album. If you’re an ally: do something, say something,” Tarek Zeidan, the executive director of the Lebanon-based LGBTQ group Helem, said. “There was no effort made at centralizing and elevating voices from people from the region, to counter rampant accusations that queer people are a western import or an extension of western foreign policy.

“[BeyoncĂ© had] the historic chance of elevating queer voices and as an artist pushing boundaries — not just at home where it’s comfortable, but internationally.”

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