For the LGBT community, the path to full equality has always been filled with roadblocks and barriers. For every step we take forward — the right to marry the person we love, for example – it seems we take a few steps back.
Make no mistake: progress has been made, especially among American businesses. From enthusiastically supporting marriage equality to standing against so-called religious liberty bills that discriminate against the LGBT community, American companies are on the front lines of our fight.
We shouldn’t just celebrate their progress — we should reward it. For example, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have been vocal advocates for progress on equal rights — at home and abroad.
The same cannot be said for their foreign competitors.
Gulf carriers like Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways are consistently hostile towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The LGBT community is barred from employment of any kind at these three companies. They are state-owned airlines headquartered in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, countries that lack any protection for the LGBT community, where intimate relationships are criminalized, and where abuses against the community are well documented.
The U.S. State Department reports that in the United Arab Emirates “both civil law and sharia criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity. Under sharia, individuals who engage in consensual same-sex sexual conduct could be subject to the death penalty.” Equally alarming, the U.S. State Department’s most recent human rights report cautions that: “There were reports of LGBT persons being questioned in Dubai airport.”