Two Men Kissing in the UAE Land Six Months in Prison

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday March 29, 2012

An Abu Dhabi appeals court backed a previous court's ruling to sentence two men to six months in prison for kissing each other on the mouth in public, reported.

A witness told the court that he saw the two men, who have not been identified, hugging and kissing each other on the mouth while in the streets of Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which sits in the Persian Gulf and borders Saudi Arabia and Iran. Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujariah and Sharjah also make up the Arab nation.

The men claimed that they were embracing each other because one of them was about to leave the country. They did admit that one of the men kissed his friend on the head but their lawyer asked the court to acquit them because the witness had contradicting testimony.

Court documents say that the witness happened to be driving by the two men when he saw them lip-locked.

"The court sentenced them to six months in jail and ordered their deportation after serving their prison terms....they two were charged with committing an indecent act in a public place," the documents said.

A similar incident happened to a straight British couple in April 2010. A Dubai appeals court upheld a one-month prison sentence for the couple because they were caught kissing in a restaurant.

The couple claims they simply shared a peck on the check but an Emirati woman still complained about the kiss. The couple were soon arrested and convicted of "inappropriate behavior and illegal drinking," the Huffington Post reported.

The UAE is known for its strict rules on sexuality. Sexual relations outside heterosexual marriage are considered a crime and the Arab country does not recognize same-sex marriage or any type of legal partnership.

Individuals can receive a number of punishments if they are caught engaging in same-sex acts, including, jail time, fines, deportation and even the death penalty. Abu Dhabi's Penal Code states that sodomy is punishable with imprisonment of up to 14-years.

In some cases, the government can force hormone treatments on an individual.

In late 2005, 26 young men were arrested in an Abu Dhabi hotel after authorities found out that they were involved in a "gay wedding." The country's Minister of Justice said, "There will be no room for homosexual and queer acts in the UAE. Our society does not accept queer behavior, either in word or in action."

In early 2006 six members of Congress criticized the UAE for its treatment towards the young men. The politicians, including Barney Frank (D-Mass), wrote a letter to the UAE ambassador to the U.S. objecting to the arrests.

The embassy replied back and said that the country "respects international principles and conventions concerning human rights which prohibit the persecution of anyone" and that the gay men are being protected by the judicial procedures. The embassy also denied claims that the men were given hormone treatments.