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Sunday, 1 April, 2001, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Dubai closes club after gay night
Nightclub
Gulf authorities take a tough stand against gays
By Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner

The authorities in Dubai have shut down a nightclub for hosting a gay night featuring a transvestite DJ from Britain.

The Diamond Club was closed on the orders of Dubai's Crown Prince, General Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, after thousands of flyers alerted the authorities.

The closure demonstrates how the Gulf states still take a tough public stand against homosexuality.

Even by Dubai's racy standards, the ''Fluff Night'' at the Diamond nightclub was too much.

The organisers of Dubai's first public gay night sent out 2,500 flyers, inviting residents of the Gulf emirate to come out of the closet.

Taboo broken

They offered a prize for the best-dressed transvestite, and the evening itself was hosted by a British transvestite DJ from a nightclub in Birmingham.

Like all the Gulf Arab states, Dubai officially frowns on homosexuality.

So, when government officials went to the club to watch, they closed the evening down and filed a report.

The Diamond Club has now been shut, but for the hundreds who attended its gay night, a taboo has been broken.

Dubai is home to thousands of British expatriates, and it is attracting some of the world's top DJs.

It has a flourishing nightclub scene, and drugs like ecstasy are readily available, although strictly illegal.

As the commercial capital of the Gulf and a major international port, Dubai also attracts large numbers of prostitutes from the former Soviet Union.

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