Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jailed for Kissing in Public

A Dubai court Sunday upheld a one-month jail sentence given to a British pair for kissing in public, media reports said.

The British man living in Dubai and a female friend were arrested in November on charges of kissing intimately in public and consuming alcohol. An Emirati mother had complained her child had seen their indiscretion.

The case is the third time in under two years that Britons have fallen foul of indecency laws in Dubai, a Muslim emirate popular with sun-seeking Western tourists and expatriates.

The defendants are consulting their lawyer on whether to appeal Sunday's ruling before a cassation court, the website of the daily Gulf News reported.

The pair, who had been free on bail, are also to pay a fine of 1,000 dirhams ($272) for illegal consumption of alcohol and will be deported after serving their jail term, the website said.

Dubai's foreign population expanded rapidly in recent years as expatriates flocked to the Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub for its tax-free earnings and year-round sunshine.

The changes have challenged the Emirati population, now vastly outnumbered by foreigners, raising concerns that the rapid pace of growth is a threat to their social and religious identity in what remains a deeply conservative region.

In 2008, a British couple narrowly escaped jail after a court found them guilty of engaging in drunken sexual activity out of wedlock and in public on a beach in the emirate.

They were sentenced to three months in prison followed by deportation, but had their jail terms overturned on appeal.

In another case this year, a British couple who shared a hotel room managed to escape trial in Dubai for having sex out of wedlock by producing a marriage certificate.

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