Habib Al Mulla's now free for brunch, if he can find one that's not deviant.
Baker McKenzie has "parted ways" with Dr Habib Al Mulla, its most senior partner in the United Arab Emirates, after a RollOnFriday investigation found he was using Twitter to preach to his 61,000 followers that homosexuality was evil.
Al Mulla is the head of Habib Al Mulla & Partners, a member firm of Baker McKenzie International via the huge law firm's Swiss verein structure. His Baker McKenzie profile refers to him as one of the UAE's "most highly respected legal authorities" and a "strong advocate for improvement and modernisation of UAE laws".
The departure of Al Mulla and potentially his firm, through which Bakers operates in the UAE from offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, represents a significant upset to the global law firm's business.
In a Twitter thread which Al Mulla posted on Tuesday, he declared in Arabic that the "problem with homosexuality in the West is not only in the ugliness of the act", but that by committing "his evil act" a gay person "is disobeying the Creator".
Last week the partner drew hundreds of responses after he commented on a video created to celebrate Emirati Women's Day. The short film depicted several Emirati women explaining how they navigated their society, with one participant encouraging female viewers that, "No matter what you look like or feel inside you are not alone".
When the minority speak for the majority that video shows nothing about being an Emirati in the first place let alone an Emirati women pic.twitter.com/QEOwy2zpah— Zayed Alshamsi زايد الشامسي (@zalshamsi1) August 28, 2022
Al Mulla interpreted the women's testimonies as a dangerous celebration of female independence and as a coded defence and promotion of homosexuality. In a Twitter thread, he described how "there is a children's story for gay marketing entitled 'How You Feel Inside'", and, "as for the phrase 'You are not alone', it is used frequently in gay publications".
Criticising the women, Al Mulla said, "They have every freedom to wear what they want and express what they want, but they have no right to falsely claim that they represent Emirati women and promote this model. Who gave them the right to promote these ideas in this capacity?"
He retweeted an alternative clip which showed women with their faces covered acting subserviently to men.
This is a more realistic depiction of an Emirati women that is proud of being an Emirati first and foremost, but it still focused more on being Emirati rather than showing the achievements of Emirati women pic.twitter.com/sg5r6fFZbp— Zayed Alshamsi زايد الشامسي (@zalshamsi1) August 28, 2022
Al Mulla was so incensed by what he perceived as gay propaganda in the original Emirati Women's Day film that he suggested other Emirati women "should file a lawsuit against those who appeared in the video on charges of insulting Emirati women".
The partner even copied in the Twitter accounts of the Dubai and UAE public prosecutors as he asked whether one female participant's declaration that the scandalised reaction to the video was “what she wanted" and "that she will do it again next year" constituted a chargeable offence: "Is this not harming national unity and social peace?" he asked.
A woman who appeared in the video said in her own social media post that she had received "death threats because I wear skirts". Al Mulla appeared to mock her claim, replying to a person who asked him for his thoughts, "You believed!"
The lawyer caveated his attacks on the women appearing in the video by clarifying that if the messages he interpreted as pro-gay were scripted by someone else, "they are victims and tools in a larger scheme", and that the "important thing is to search for someone who used his capabilities to shoot and publish a video aimed at destabilising the Emirati social peace. He is more worthy of accountability and punishment".
Al Mulla made his feelings even clearer as he engaged with people replying to his tweets. Equating homosexuality with child sex abuse, Al Mulla said "the complete package" from the West "includes homosexuality, and soon drugs (it has begun to be allowed in Western countries), pedophilia and atheism".
When a fan of Al Mulla's rhetoric replied that "everyone is responsible for protecting the leading generation from homosexuals", the partner replied with the 'thanks' emoji.
"The call for homosexuality has become public", said another person in response to Al Mulla's anaylsis. "Unfortunately", the lawyer replied.
Baker McKenzie states on its website that it is "proud to be known as an LGBT+ inclusive workplace". It also states that it wants "to ensure that all of our people feel included and empowered", which put it in an awkward position with regards to Al Mullah, whose empowerment many staff would regard as unpalatable and in direct conflict with being inclusive of gay people.
After RollOnFriday asked Baker McKenzie for comment on Monday, the firm initiated an investigation which had, by Thursday, resulted in confirmation of his imminent departure.
Baker McKenzie's position in the region is now uncertain, as it appears likely it will be compelled to give up its association with Al Mulla's firm as well.
The incident underlines the potential for crisis in global firms which enshrine progressive ideals in the West, but not in other jurisdictions where it would be controversial - and unprofitable - to promote liberal values.
A Baker McKenzie spokesperson said, "After recent discussions, Baker McKenzie and Dr Habib Al Mulla can confirm they will be parting ways. The separation process is underway, and we remain committed to supporting both clients and employees in the UAE and the wider region".
"Baker McKenzie strongly believes that however much we may disagree with the beliefs and personal views of each other, we must find ways to disagree respectfully, encourage inclusive dialogue and to ensure a safe work environment for all", said the spokesperson, adding for the avoidance of doubt: "Any social media comment by Dr. Habib represents his own views and not those of the Firm".