A Black gay New Orleans-based public relations consultant says he was harassed, intimidated and later jailed after criticizing how his Dubai landlord treated its Black tenants and foreign employees. Lionel Lombard Jr is suing Emaar properties, the builder of the world's tallest tower, on allegations of racial discrimination, harassment, wrongful imprisonment and torture, according a report in The Times Picayune and a complaint filed last month in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.
"Lionel Lombard was twice arrested and unlawfully and arbitrarily detained and maliciously prosecuted," the lawsuit alleges. It said the treatment occurred after Lombard sent e-mails, made phone calls, protested in person and called the police over "racial discrimination against people of African descent at Emaar's The Springs development.”
Lombard said his troubles started when he was falsely accused of making a suggestive hand gesture to a woman. He was jailed for three months. When a friend bailed him out, the friend was told Lombard was not an American. Lombard said he was frequently mocked because of his race. When he was released, he had lost his job and had been blacklisted from being able to find a new job, he said. He was also banned from leaving the country. Then he was evicted and denied access to his house, he alleges in the lawsuit. Lombard relocated to neighboring Abu Dhabi. In May 2008... members of the Emirati Criminal Investigative Department approached him and told him he was wanted in Dubai. He was taken to the police station, where he was arrested in relation to a "financial dispute." In his lawsuit says he was shackled at the hands and the ankles for six days. During that time, he was harassed constantly and kept from sleeping, he alleges. He remained behind bars for 20 months, according to the suit.
The Times Picayune does not report the anti-gay harassment detailed in the lawsuit. Lombard, who describes himself in the suit as "an African American male whose sexual orientation is discreetly homosexual", denies sexually harassing the woman. Lombard says Emaar Properties and Dubai authorities accessed his email and computer records, discovered he was gay, and intimidated and threatened him
Same-sex relations and pornography are illegal in the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven states including Dubai. It is unclear if Lombard was arrested or charged with anything same-sex related—but the Emirate is using undercover agents to patrol gay chat rooms and arrest citizens and visitors.