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Critics Are Calling for Beyoncé to Be Canceled After Controversial Live Performance

The singer performed her first concert in over four years in Dubai for a reportedly hefty fee.

Beyoncé recently got fans around the world talking when she performed her first live concert in over four years. But while some members of the Beyhive were looking for any footage they could find of the event on social media, others were furious that the show even happened in the first place. Beyonce's performance took place in Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, and she was reportedly paid a great deal of money for it. The biggest critics of this recent live appearance are even calling for the beloved singer to be canceled, since they believe her Dubai concert harms members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Read on to find out why the location she chose for a rare concert is so controversial and to see how her father, Matthew Knowles, responded.

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Beyoncé performed at the opening of a new hotel.

Beyoncé at the 2016 Met Gala
Sky Cinema / Shutterstock

On Jan. 21, Beyoncé performed a one-hour concert at the opening of the luxury hotel, Atlantis the Royal. According to the BBC, the invite-only event had a no-phones policy, but it was clearly broken by many, as videos from the event have hit the internet.

Beyoncé was paid a hefty sum for the performance, which was her first full set since the end of 2018. Forbes reports that she was paid $24 million for the gig.

The UAE has strict laws against homosexuality.

Beyoncé performing in Rio de Janeiro in 2011
A.RICARDO / Shutterstock

Homosexuality is illegal in the United Arab Emirates. According to Human Diginity Trust, under the law in the UAE, prison time can be enforced for same-sex sexual activity. "Both men and women are criminalized under the law," according to the organization. "Same-sex sexual activity may also be penalized under Sharia law, under which the death penalty is possible, though there is no evidence that this has been used against LGBT people."

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Beyoncé was criticized for performing in the country.

Like other stars before her, Beyoncé was criticized for performing in a country that is oppressive towards LGBTQIA+ people.

One tweet from @douglasgrnwd, which has over 20K likes, reads, "No beef but I'm struggling to understand why Beyoncé, who has half a billion dollars, would accept 20 million dollars to make her debut performance of the Renaissance album, a record which lifts heavily from queer culture, in Dubai, a country where LGBT rights aren't recognised."

Beyoncé reportedly did not perform songs from 2022's Renaissance, which led another Twitter user to question whether this was on purpose. @PeterTatchell wrote, "#Beyonce performs in #Dubai's homophobic dictatorship. Ditching her own progressive values, she put a money-grabbing pay cheque before human rights. And sang no songs from Renaissance album, to appease anti-LGBT+ regime that has death penalty for gay sex?" (As noted by Gay Times, Renaissance features samples and guest appearances by several queer artists.)

Another Twitter user, @yungbobbay, wrote, "Beyonce's first performance in years and she decides to do it exclusively for celebs and millionaires in Dubai after releasing an album celebrating LGBT culture… It's gonna be a no from me. Like, slay girl but also no, girl!"

Some fans defended her.

The concert isn't being universally panned, however. Some spoke up for Beyoncé's right to perform in Dubai.

@NightAmorphous responded to @douglasgrnwd's post and wrote, "As a queer person from a country that doesn't recognize lgbt rights, I gotta say that this is a stupid tweet. Y'all want celebrities to boycott entire countries over homophobia? The government wouldn't care and it'd just hurt queer people in Dubai who want to see Beyonce."

@irlboy6 posted, "idk man, idrc that beyoncé performed in Dubai. potentially her presence there spreads values that could further LGBT acceptance. someone tell me I'm being an insensitive idiot."

@pathrique1 wrote, "beyoncé performing in dubai means being anti-lgbt??? then that means everyone performing in the US are supporters of gun violence, using that same logic. yall are dumb i swear."

Beyoncé's father addressed the backlash.

Matthew Knowles and Beyoncé at the 2005 Grammys
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Beyoncé, who rarely gives interviews, has not spoken out about the Dubai performance, but her father, Matthew Knowles, has. According to TMZ, he said that Beyoncé is all about uniting people from different backgrounds and that she didn't perform songs from Renaissance because a full Renaissance tour is on the way.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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