View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

UAE takes Tough Stance on ‘Indecent Acts’ and Homosexuality

News services around the world have posted the story, reporting the court case and appeal of two women who were jailed for a month for kissing, fondling and engaging in “indecent acts” on a public beach in Dubai.

The story that was supplied by the UAE media to foreign news services had a certain spin.

The report specified that these were two foreign women (not UAE nationals) and it mentioned their nationality.

The articles underlined the point that “this was the first case of its kind in the United Arab Emirates,” or at least this was the first case to come to trial.

The point that the kissing and fondling took place not only between two people of the same sex but between two women appears to have heightened the indecency of the action.

The fact that the Dubai Court of Appeal upheld the one-month jail sentence followed by deportation handed down by a lower court to the women, who both pleaded not guilty, underscored the determination of the UAE courts to eradicate this behavior by tough sentencing.

The many foreign papers that ran the story, such as the Melbourne Age, concluded their reports with the line, “It [the UAE] maintains a conservative social order, repressing homosexuality and prostitution.”

The story sends a signal to tourists to be aware of the UAE laws regarding modesty of dress and touching in public.

Whatever view one takes on homosexual relationships and particularly lesbianism, the strong position of the UAE will curb the substantial gay or ‘pink’ tourism market. This may be completely intentional.

Furthermore, this action reinforces the law prohibiting homosexuality in the UAE and continues to make it extremely awkward for American Universities setting up branches in the Emirates who are turning a blind eye to their equal rights and anti-discrimination policies.

Related articles:
New York University Abu Dhabi Campus has not clarified Human Rights Issues, ETE
US Colleges have Interest in UAE and Possibly Conflict of Interest, ETE

International Report: Women Jailed for ‘Indecent Acts’ on Dubai Beach, Melbourne Age, 2 September 2008

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Some of the many reports in international papers.