Steps singer Ian 'H' Watkins says group turned down Dubai gig over LGBTQ+ laws

Ian 'H' Watkins from Steps said the band turned down a Dubai gig due to the country's human rights policies Credit: PA Images

Ian 'H' Watkins has said that Steps turned down a gig in Dubai as the contract said that there should be “no mention of sexuality.”

Speaking at Chippenham Pride in Wiltshire, the pop star said that the country's laws have changed since the group last performed there in 2018 and have become more “archaic.”

“Recently, we have just turned down a gig in the Emirates in Dubai, specifically, because of their human rights policies and specifically their laws on LGBTQ+ people," Watkins told the PA news agency.

The band last performed in Dubai in 2018 Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

“We got offered a very lovely sum of money, but, in the contract, it did say no mention of sexuality and for me, as a gay man, I did say ‘that doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not going to be part of that.'

“I did say to the rest of the gang, you’re welcome to do that without me.”

Watkins went on to say that the laws in Dubai had changed since Steps last perform there in 2018, adding: "Actually, the whole world has progressed, but the laws in the Emirates and Dubai are even more archaic now.

"I think, if we took a stand and did our show, as it was, I, specifically would be in danger. I would go to jail, we would absolutely be in contempt of the government.

"But we can do our bit and we will actually go up and say, ‘no, we’re not doing that’, and that creates even more noise."

The singer said he was "angry and upset" after a rainbow-coloured bench installed in his home town was vandalised Credit: Ian H Watkins/Instagram

The singer recently said he was "angry and upset" after a rainbow-coloured bench installed to celebrate Pride in his home town, Cowbridge, was vandalised.He had helped to organise the first Pride event in the market town, which was held last year, but said the bench was left damaged and vandalised earlier this month.

On social media, Watkins said: "I feel really quite upset about this. I know it's just a bench but this is a symbol, it's a statement of love and inclusion."