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Dubai court halves prison of man convicted of gay sex

A Dubai Court of Appeal halved a prison sentence given to a Belgian man, whose partner fell to his death, for having consensual gay sex
Dubai court of appeal halves prison of man convicted of gay sex, while LGBT activists call for his immediate release.

The Dubai Court of Appeal has reduced the prison sentence given to a Belgian man for having consensual gay sex from one year to six months.

The man's case made the headlines in the Emirates because his partner had fallen to his death from their apartment balcony under suspicious circumstances.

The Khaleeji Times reported that on Tuesday (28 August) the Court Appeal upheld the order that the 23-year-old Belgian known by his initials PH, must be deported after he finishes his term in jail.

In June, the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours had sentenced PH to one year imprisonment followed by deportation for admitting having consensual gay sex with his Filipino partner.

The gay Filipino known by his initials as AM, fell to his death from the kitchen balcony of their Dubai apartment building.

The building’s guard heard AM mumble PH's name during his final breaths, which led the police to initially suspect he was murdered by the Belgian.

Police later ruled out murder as no substantial evidence or fingerprints could be gathered to prove that PH was involved in his lover's mysterious death.

The death was then considered a suicide and PH was referred to the court on the charge of having consensual gay sex.

PH denied having anything to do with the fatal fall of his partner, calming he was in the bathroom at the time of the Filipino’s fall and when he got out, he heard a scream and found the kitchen’s balcony door locked.

PH claimed AM locked himself in the kitchen after becoming upset by an argument the pair had.

PH denied the murder charge but admitted to court that he had been in a gay relationship which included sex with AM, and met the deceased online and invited him to stay at his flat.

Homosexuality is illegal in the Emirate of Dubai, Article 177 of the penal code imposes up to 10 years in prison for consensual gay sex.

Commenting on the news, Nasira, a 30 year old lesbian who is the managing director of the United Arab Emirates LGBT group said: ‘Whilst it's definitely a promising step in the right direction, that the man in question’s appeal was successful in reducing the sentence from one year to six months, it can't be denied that a jail term in itself, let alone the sentence imposed, is an unjust verdict for two adults engaging in consensual sexual activities.'

‘Consensual sex itself should not be punishable by law. This is a modern country in many ways that relies heavily on international trade and expatriate workers. Denying any individual regardless of nationality their basic rights cannot be just if this country wishes to remain a major player on the international stage and we welcome further change and developments of the Dubai penal code.’

Ali, a 25-year-old law student from Dubai and member of UAE LGBT, said: ‘The purpose of this investigation was to figure out who was responsible for the death of the victim; which has been ruled as suicide.

‘The fact they were having a relationship and or gay sex is no relevance to the case and the court should have respected the privacy of PH and dismissed the case.

‘While this is an improvement on a one year sentence PH should have been released altogether. I am very keen to see a drive in the Middle East, starting with the UAE, that accepts the universality of Human Rights of which LGBT rights are an integral part.’ 

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