Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature in Dubai will now be down one world-class author after it banned a book containing a gay character. Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, was to be amongst over 60 prestigious authors attending the event, but since the organisers decided to ban Geraldine Bedell’s The Gulf Between Us. In a calm, to-the-point letter, she explained she cannot condone censorship and therefore had to decline involvement with the festival.
I’m with Atwood on this one. Of the 5.6m inhabitants of Dubai, the majority are foreigners, and in recent years EU and US citizens have been arrested for having LGBT relationships. This book was banned under the same anti-gay laws. Whether you’re pro- or anti-gay rights, there’s an argument against censorship here. A book shouldn’t be banned just because you don’t like what it says.