NBA Holding Games in UAE Despite Region’s Death Penalty for LGBTQ Individuals

NBA had pulled All-Star Game out of Charlotte, NC, citing discriminatory bathroom bill.

  • The National Basketball Association has announced that two of its preseason games will be held in Abu Dhabi next season, according to the NBA’s website.
  • This will be the first time the league will play in the Arabian Gulf, and the first preseason games to be played outside North America since 2019, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Questions about the league’s decision have sprung in light of the UAE’s LGBT policy which not only outlaws gay marriage, but still includes the possibility of the death penalty (here, here) for those found to engage in homosexual relationships. 
  • The NBA’s decision comes just six years after NBA pulled the All-Star Game out of Charlotte saying that North Carolina’s bathroom bill was discriminatory toward the LGBTQ community.
  • NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum was in Abu Dhabi to sign the league’s multi-year agreement with tourism officials when he commented on the league’s reasoning.
  • “Abu Dhabi is a vibrant multicultural hub with a demonstrated track record of hosting world-class sporting events,” said Tatum, according to the NBA’s website.
  • In 2016, the NBA’s decision not to play their 2017 All-Star Game in North Carolina over their bathroom bill made headlines due to the association’s seeming involvement in policy.
  • The league said in their announcement that they could not do business in a state that was not friendly to the LGBTQ community.