United Arab Emirates (3rd cycle)

Click here for a summary of UAE’s review at the first cycle and/or the second cycle.

29th UPR session
Date of review: 22 January 2018
Date of report adoption: 29 June 2018
Document number: A/HRC/38/14


SOGIESC issues during United Arab Emirates’ 3rd UPR review
Civil society submissions: ✓ (2 submissions)
National report: ✘
UN information: ✘
Working group discussions: ✓
Recommendations: ✓ (4 noted)

I. SOGIESC issues/recommendations identified by NGOs and other stakeholders
Equality and non-discrimination

11. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) stated that many of the provisions in Federal Law No. 2 of 2015, known informally as the anti-discrimination law, were vaguely worded and could be used to target free expression. Article 6, for example, allowed for a prison sentence of up to five years for anyone “who commits any act of discrimination of any form by any means of expression or by any other means.” Furthermore, the law failed to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.

12. HRW stated that Article 356 of the Penal Code criminalizing “indecency” was used by courts to convict and sentence people for “moral” offenses, including same-sex relations. Furthermore, different emirates within the UAE had laws that criminalized samesex sexual relations, including Abu Dhabi where “unnatural sex with another person” could be punished with up to 14 years in prison, and Dubai, which imposed 10 years of imprisonment for sodomy. The UAE rejected recommendations it received in 2012 to decriminalize consensual same-sex marriage.


56. According to HRW, Article 356 of the Penal Code criminalizing (but not defining) “indecency” provided for a minimum sentence of one year in prison. In practice, UAE courts used this article to convict and sentence people for zina offenses, which included consensual sexual relations outside heterosexual marriage.

II. Excerpts on SOGIESC issues from the national report
No references.

III. Excerpts on SOGIESC issues by UN agencies
No references.

IV. References to SOGIESC issues during the Working Group review
43. Portugal welcomed efforts to tackle gender discrimination, and to improve children’s rights.

87. Australia commended the measures to protect migrant workers and to promote gender equality and religious tolerance. It expressed concern that human rights defenders had been arrested without charge.

88. Austria expressed concern about the limitations placed on the freedom of expression and the persecution and arbitrary detention of persons who peacefully expressed dissent.

V. Conclusions and/or recommendations
United Arab Emirates noted the following recommendations:

141.92 Take policy measures to promote tolerance and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (Iceland);

141.93 Take appropriate steps to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, and ensure that protection is provided to victims of sexual assault, and that perpetrators are identified, prosecuted and held accountable (United States of America);

141.168 Amend Federal Decree Law No. 2 of 2015 to include prohibition of discrimination based on sex (Denmark);

141.181 Reform discriminatory evidence standards for prosecution of rape, and train police and judicial personnel in the handling cases of sexual and gender-based violence (Sweden);

VI. Further information
You will find all documents relating to UAE’s third review at UPR-Info and OHCHR’s websites.