Two accused of using the internet to offer sex

Men in separate cases face charges including gay prostitution, cross-dressing and insulting religion.

DUBAI // Two men who allegedly used the internet to offer sexual services appeared separately before the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance yesterday. The first man, MN, is charged with prostitution, consensual homosexual sex, producing pornographic material, cross-dressing and insulting religion. The second, MF, an 18-year-old student, is charged with prostitution.

Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE. Both defendants face a minimum of three years imprisonment and a maximum sentence of 15 years if found guilty. MN, 22, was arrested at the Dubai International Airport in July 20 in possession of homemade pornographic material, according to prosecution sources. He is also accused of uploading and promoting pornographic materials online. MN, who was flanked by two senior police officers in court, denied the charges.

He is being held in solitary confinement at Al Qusais police station to protect him from other prisoners, prosecution sources said. MN was initially charged with homosexuality, indecency and encouraging prostitution. Prosecutors later elevated the charges. He is also accused of insulting religion after prosecutors alleged that he circulated images on the internet of himself dressed up in women's garb while reading the Quran.

"He has insulted the Islamic creed by wearing female make-up, accessories and a hijab-like veil while sitting in front of the Holy Quran and acting like he is praying," the indictment said. MN is due to appear in court again on January 20 to present his defence. The other Emirati defendant is accused of enticing men through internet chat rooms to commit homosexual acts. MF denied the charge. According to court documents, a cybercrimes investigator met the defendant last September in an online chat room.

The officer alleges that the defendant made arrangements for them to meet to have sex. "When we arrested the defendant we confiscated his computer and he confessed to us that he has had illicit sex with many persons," said Sgt Omar Ibrahim of the Dubai Police cybercrimes division.