Two Singaporeans, 26-year-old Fadli Rahman and 37-year-old Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim, were arrested in a shopping centre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 9 August and sentenced to a year in jail on 20 August for wearing women’s clothes in public and for behaving indecently.
Cross-dressing, homosexuality, and transgender behaviour are criminal offenses in the UAE. The duo have until 4 September to appeal the sentence.
It has been reported that Nur Qistina is a transgender who has not undergone sex reassignment surgery to become a woman but has undergone a legal name change. Fadli is a fashion photographer who was in Abu Dhabi for a photoshoot.’
Fadli’s elder brother Saiful Rahman told reporters that his family only heard about the arrest through Fadli’s friends five days after the fact. When his parents found out, he said:
“My parents were crying and worried about him over there. We just want him back. We want him back safely. They can even deport him.”
The family has reached out to a lawyer in Abu Dhabi to help Fadli and is crowdfunding to raise money for legal fees.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement to the media:
“MFA is aware of this case and is rendering the necessary consular assistance. We are also assisting the family to seek legal advice.”
Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also reportedly emailed the family, offering support:
“I’m sorry to hear about this. Rest assured that our consular and mission colleagues will do their best to assist your brother. I understand that they are already in contact with you and your brother. Please let me know if you need further assistance.”