Due Process International
Arrested for cross-dressing in Dubai
A transgender woman was arrested in Dubai last week, accused of cross-dressing. She was thrown into a male prison and deprived of access to the telephone. “Her family was worried sick and had no idea what was happening”, said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai.
“This is not the first time we have been called in an emergency situation. A British national was arrested at a Dubai mall for wearing skinny jeans while two Singaporeans were sentenced to a year in prison for cross dressing. Authorities reduced the sentence to a fine and deportation following an international media campaign.”
- UAE cuts sentences for Singaporeans jailed for cross-dressing
Stirling told the Associated Press at the time “But even trips to Dubai can pose risks to LGBT travelers and others as laws sometimes contradict social attitudes. A British man in the UAE faced charges of “cross dressing” last year, but Stirling said she helped him leave the country after paying a fine of 5,000 dirhams ($1,360).”
“Alcohol, prostitutes, homosexuality, sex outside marriage and revealing clothing are all ever present, making these practices seem legal or at least, common and acceptable,” Stirling said. “In reality, they are serious offenses that can lead to lengthy imprisonment, fines and deportation.”
Scottish national Jamie Harron was famously arrested for touching a man’s hip as he pushed through a crowded bar.
- Scot tourist Jamie Harron sentenced to three months in Dubai jail for ‘accidentally touching man’s hip in busy bar’
Stirling added, “Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE, with punishments from serious jail terms all the way to a death sentence. Any expression of an LGBT identity, or of being in any sort of LGBT relationship is strictly forbidden in the Emirates. In recent years we have seen an Australian man report an assault to Dubai police, only to find himself charged with homosexuality, and sentenced to over a year imprisonment. Others have been arrested for “appearing” feminine in their clothing.
“Dubai has become a popular destination for many celebrities and performers who champion LGBT issues, such as Lady Gaga and Madonna; and even openly Gay artists like Elton John and Ricky Martin. The contradiction has been conspicuous, and it is inevitable that Dubai’s conservative laws will need progressive reforms.”
Last year when the UAE announced some legal reform, Stirling told Forbes “Unmentioned in the new “principles of tolerance” are LGBT people. “As for gay people, homosexuality is still a criminal offence in the UAE that warrants the death penalty,” says Stirling. “It is surprising to see so many celebrities, even Ricky Martin, performing in a city where they could be jailed for their own choices.”
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“Dubai has become a popular destination for many celebrities and performers who champion LGBT issues, such as Lady Gaga and Madonna; and even openly Gay artists like Elton John. The contradiction has been conspicuous, and it is inevitable that Dubai’s conservative laws will need progressive reforms.”
Following efforts from Detained in Dubai, the Filipino national was promptly deported but with such intolerance, is it appropriate for multinationals and celebrities to support the country?
The woman’s fiancé told Detained in Dubai in a testimonial video:
"Hi, I just want to thank all the staff at Detained in Dubai and Radha Stirling and especially Adrian, part of her staff who helped out somebody very close to me who was arrested in Dubai. They were there for a week. We didn't know what to do, no contact, nothing.
"I was very sceptical, I gave Radha a call and with her connections, she was on a bus to the airport get deported in two days. Unbelievable how happy we are. I just want to thank again Radha Stirling and all her staff at Detained in Dubai. Give her a call, you won't be sorry. It was unbelievable what she did for us so thank you guys, I really appreciate everything you've done for us. Thank you" - James.
Related media and resources:
- British National arrested in December at Dubai Mall for alleged crossdressing was handed a fine
- British rock band 1975's Matt Healy defies Dubai anti-LGBT law with 'gay kiss'