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Dubai is a popular destination for many South Africans but a recent case involving a British tourist highlights the dangers of the country’s criminalisation of LGBT people.
Jamie Harron, a 27-year-old electrician from Scotland, is facing three years in jail simply for the act of brushing past another man in a nightclub during a two-day stopover in July.
Gay bars and social clubs either don't exist or operate covertly in such places, which makes dating apps a tempting method for making contacts."The lure of being with other people like yourself — it's something people have a deep desire for, even when there are incredible risks," said Andre Banks, executive director of the international gay-rights group All Out.
For location-based dating apps such as Grindr, the security challenges are especially acute because of the very feature that makes them popular.
I am lucky I have friends to stay with but this has broken me, financially and emotionally.Some of them had got a phone call asking to meet, from someone they'd talked to before on Whats App, and that guy turned out to be police.""Even if you are on Grindr or Manjam, in most countries that's not a crime — but sodomy is," Alizadeh said. If you have a good lawyer, you can argue, 'How do you prove I'm gay?' But finding a good lawyer is not always possible."Sharif Mowlabocus, a senior lecturer at the University of Sussex in Britain, is an expert on digital media and LGBT culture who's been closely following the debate over social-networking security.This is another example of how vulnerable tourists are to arrest and detention in Dubai and at how drawn out and disorganised legal proceedings are.” The organisation noted that most tourists who consume alcohol at licensed venues in Dubai are not aware that they can still be arrested for having alcohol in their system.Homosexuality is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, which includes the emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah and Sharjah.
I am in debt because of the legal fees and won’t even be able to afford to appeal the case if it doesn’t go in my favour”.