UAE sentences two Singaporeans, including trans woman, to jail

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The two were sentenced over wearing 'inappropriate clothing' in the conservative emirate

Abu Dhabi, with Sheikh Zayed mosque in the background (AFP)
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Thursday 24 August 2017 16:15 UTC
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Two Singaporeans, one of whom is transgender, have been sentenced to one year in prison in the United Arab Emirates for charges linked to their appearance, a rights group said Thursday.

"Two Singapore nationals have been sentenced to one year in prison in Abu Dhabi after being arrested on charges linked to inappropriate behaviour over their clothing," said Radha Stirling, head of the London-based non-profit Detained in Dubai and managing partner at the Stirling Haigh law firm. 

"One is identified as a man and the other a pre-operative transgender woman - i.e. a male on their passport".

Radha said there were no lawyers present at their first hearing this week, upon the recommendation of the Singaporean embassy in the United Arab Emirates. 

Her organisation will now appeal the verdict and request the sentence be dropped to a fine and deportation. 

While residents are granted ample leeway in their private lives in the United Arab Emirates, the country criminalises sodomy, as well as both pre-marital and extra-marital sex. 

Article 358 of the penal code also criminalises "indecent attire" as an act of public indecency.

The United Arab Emirates in 2016 legalised gender reassignment surgery under a new medical liability law.