Unspeakable Love

Unspeakable Love

Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East

9780863564833 June 2011 Paperback 288pp

About the Book

Homosexuality is a taboo subject in the Arab world. While clerics denounce it as a heinous sin, newspapers write cryptically of ‘shameful acts’ and ‘deviant behaviour’.

Amid the calls for reform in the Middle East, homosexuality is one issue that almost everyone in the region would prefer to ignore. In this absorbing account, Guardian journalist Brian Whitaker calls attention to the voices of men and women who are struggling with gay identities in societies where they are marginalized and persecuted by the authorities. He paints a disturbing picture of people who live secretive, fearful lives and who are often jailed, beaten, and ostracized by their families, or sent to be ‘cured’ by psychiatrists.

Deeply informed and engagingly written, Unspeakable Love reveals that – while deeply repressive prejudices and stereotypes still govern much thinking about homosexuality – there are pockets of change and tolerance. This updated edition includes new material covering developments since the book’s first publication.

About the Author

Brian Whitaker was Middle East editor at the Guardian for seven years and then an editor for the newspaper’s 'Comment is Free' website. He is the author of What’s Really Wrong with the Middle East and Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East, which was shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Award in 2006. His website, www.al-bab.com, is devoted to Arab culture and politics.


‘Masterful – incredibly balanced and thoughtful’
Ben Summerskill

‘Anyone interested in reform in the Arab world must read this book’
Mai Yamani

‘Wise and compassionate’

‘A must-read for anyone who believes in human rights’
Rabih Alameddine

‘Never before has such a comprehensive study of gay civil rights been published’
The Middle East Gay Journal