The United Arab Emirates dictatorship maintains homophobic and misogynistic laws that violate the human rights of many people living in the country.

  • Misogyny towards Emirati women:
    • A husband no longer has an obligation to make expenditures for his wife “if she denies herself to him without a canonical reason”
    • “A husband has rights over his wife, including … looking after the house”
  • Homophobic laws:
    • The new UAE criminal code continues to criminalize consensual sexual acts including through language such as “sin,” “indecency,” or “sodomy,” all of which can be easily used to target gay or lesbian couples and target LGBTQ communities.

The following excerpts are translated from the U.A.E.’s Arabic language legal codes:

Source 1: UAE Personal Status Laws target women who are Emirati nationals

Personal Status Law (originally issued by Federal Act No. 28 of 2005, amended by Decree of Federal Act No. 8 of 2019, Decree of Federal Act No. 5 of 2020, and Decree of Federal Act No. 29 of 2020) –

Art. 1.2 (establishes that law applies to Emirati Muslims),

Art. 1.3 (establishes that foreigners of either gender can opt of Emirati personal-status law – with the exceptions of Arts. 12–17, 27, and 28) and have their national law applied to them),

Art. 32 (establishes a male guardian (ولي) in charge of marriage arrangements, from father to son to brother to uncle),

Art. 33 (establishes explicitly that ولي must be male, and Muslim),

Art. 38.1 (establishes that the two contracting parties to a marriage are the husband and the male guardian),

Art. 56.1 (as amended by 8/2019, 5/2020) (“A husband has rights over his wife, including … looking after the house”;

Art. 71 (as amended by 5/2020) a husband no longer has an obligation to make expenditures for his wife “if she denies herself to him without a canonical reason” – 71.1), “if a court judgment or decision has issued restricting her freedom based on some other right of the husband” – 71.4), or “if she has violated her spousal duties as prescribed by law” – 71.5),

Art. 72 (as amended by 5/2020) (“it is for the judge to uphold the interests of the family” in ruling on a spouse leaving the house, including for work, and including in cases where “canon law or custom” control)…”

Source 2: UAE Criminal Code targets “sodomy,” “sinfulness,” “indecency” under certain circumstances

The UAE published a new criminal code that took effect at the start of 2022. (Original Arabic PDF.) The new criminal code contains multiple provisions that can be used to prosecute consensual adult relations, including criminalization of “sinfulness,” “indecency,” and under certain circumstances, “sodomy.”

See below for translated excerpts:

Code of Crimes & Punishments (issued by Decree of Federal Act No. 31 of 2021) –

Chapter 5 (is called “Crimes Infringing on Honour”; Arts. 406–424),

Chapter 5, Section 1 (is called “Rape, Violation of Honour, and Fornication with Consent”),

Art. 407, ¶ 1 (possible prison sentence, حبس (= up to 3 years, see Art. 70, ¶ 2) for anyone who “violates another’s honour, whether man or woman,” “هتك عرض شخص آخر رجلاً كان أم أنثى”; ¶ 3 increases the punishment considerably, to 10–25 years, if the other party is a servant in the household or has a physical disability),

Art. 409 (“Anyone who fornicates with a woman or commits sodomy with a man 18 years or older by consent shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than six months [and up to 3 years; حبس], and anyone accepting the same shall receive the same punishment,” but under ¶ 2 there can only be prosecution if initiated by a husband, زوج, or a ولي),

Chapter 5, Section 2 (is called “Scandalous Acts Offending Modesty”; Arts. 411–413),

Art. 411 ¶¶ 1–2 (“any act … or speech” that is “scandalous” and “offends modesty” or “public morals” can be punished by prison, up to 3 years [حبس]),

Art. 412.2 (in conjunction with preliminary ) (possible prison, up to a year, for “any man … disguising himself in women’s clothing”),

Chapter 5, Section 3 (is called “Incitement to Sinfulness and Indecency”; Articles 414–424),

Art. 414 (up to six months in prison for publicly “incit[ing]” to a “life of sin,” فسق), Art. 415 (possible prison, though not more than one month, for putting into public circulation a “call, songs, … outcry, or writing contrary to morals,” or “tempt[ing] another openly to sinfulness by any means”),

Art. 416 (possession or transfer or advertisement of “writings, drawings, pictures, films, symbols, or other things infringing on public morals,” with intent “to exploit or distribute” them, is punishable by possible prison time of not more than one month),

Art. 417 (mandatory minimum of 1 year and up to 3 years prison sentence (حبس) for “incit[ing], tempt[ing], or misguid[ing] a man or woman, by any means, into committing sinful or indecent acts, or helping [him/her] therein”),

Art. 419 (anyone “founding or managing an establishment of sin or indecency, or for the facilitation of its causes [sic], or who aids in any way in its founding or management,” is punishable with 3–15 years in prison (السجن المؤقت, see Art. 69, ¶ 2); basically appears to target vice (brothels, speakeasies, strip clubs), but is so vague it might also extend to a gay bar or perhaps even an apartment complex that rented to gay couples),

Art. 420 (outlaws “exploitation” of prostitution, but also of another person’s “sinfulness”; punishable by up to 5 years in prison)

Art. 421 (aggravating factors to crimes of Arts. 417 and 420 if perpetrator “works for hire” for the other party or in their household, i.e. possible effect is that an employee who had a “sinful” relationship with someone of higher class could be more harshly punished for sexual-mores crimes),

Art. 422 (“Anyone who habitually practices sin or indecency shall be punished by imprisonment,” السجن المؤقت, i.e. 3–15 years),

Art. 423 (any prison sentence under Chapter 5, Section 3, “Incitement to Sinfulness and Indecency,” also carries post-prison probation for an equal period of time)