Dubai Court
Dubai Court Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: The Dubai Court of Cassation has acquitted two expats of charges that they had a sexual relationship out of wedlock, based on the changes made to the UAE laws last year.

The Filipina and Egyptian couple, both 31, were found guilty earlier by the Dubai Court of First Instance and were sentenced to one month in jail, to be followed by deportation in October last year for having a consensual sexual affair.

The Appeal Court upheld the verdict, but the couple appealed the case at the Cassation Court after the law changed and their act was no longer considered a crime.

According to official records obtained by Gulf News, the couple entered into a relationship after they met on the Tinder dating application.

They had a sexual affair out of wedlock and used the Egyptian’s apartment in Jebel Ali in 2019.

The Filipina who got pregnant was caught when she was to deliver her baby at a hospital in April 2020.

Dubai Police was alerted by the hospital as the woman admitted that the Egyptian was the father of her baby but she was not married to him.

“I had an illegal affair with him at his apartment. I told him that I’m pregnant and he blocked my number. I had a baby girl,” said the Filipina in official records.

The Egyptian was summoned for questioning by Dubai Police but he denied having an illegal affair with the woman.

“We met on Tinder and went for lunch at a restaurant. I didn’t have a sexual affair with her,” said the defendant in official records.

However, a DNA test proved that he was indeed the biological father of the baby.

“I wanted to take my baby and return to my home country, but I couldn’t due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

Lawyer Hani Hammouda from Kefah Al Zaabi Advocates, defending the Egyptian man, appealed the case at the Cassation Court as per the amended law and according to Federal Decree 15 of 2020.

Hani Hammouda

“Consensual sex is not punishable by the law as per the new changes. My client was prosecuted for an act that is no longer described a crime,” Hammouda told Gulf News.

“As per UAE laws, the suspect can benefit from the new changes in the laws as long as there is no final verdict issued. Usually each verdict can be appealed within a time limit.”

Grounds for acquittal

According to lawyer Hammouda, the Cassation Court acquitted the pair as per Federal Decree 15 for 2020.

He said the court stated that consensual sex was cancelled from the Federal Punishment Law 3 of 1973, and as a result the act is no longer a crime.

“Based on Article 13 of the law, the court stated that if there is a law issued or changed before the final verdict of a crime, then it can be implemented by the court,” added the lawyer.

Timeline of the case

April 2020: Case registered against the couple at Jebel Ali police station.

August 2020: Dubai Misdemeanor Court sentences the pair to one month in jail and deportation.

October 2020: Dubai Court of Appeal upholds the verdict.

November 2020: New changes in the law announced.

December 2020: The couple is acquitted by Dubai Cassation Court.

What the new changes in the law say

In 2020, a number of presidential decrees were issued amending some articles in the Personal Status Law, the Federal Penal Code and the Federal Penal Procedural Law.

One of the changes was in the UAE Federal Penal Law No. 3 of 1987. Among the amended articles was Article 356, where the provisions have been replaced by virtue of Article 1 of the Federal Decree Law, which states that voluntary or consensual sexual act shall be punished with the same sentence prescribed in the preceding paragraph, if the age of the victim, whether male or female, is less than 14 years old, or if the crime is committed against a person whose will is not considered credible, due to young age, insanity or dementia.