“Cross-dressing” man is latest victim of Bahrain’s morality purge

Tony Grew February 13, 2009
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A driving instructor has been jailed for one month in Bahrain for wearing women’s clothing in public.

A court was told the 39-year-old was wearing a abaya, a long black robe that covers the whole body, and scarf.

He was reportedly also carrying a purse as he walked through Al Haddad Market.

He was arrested after police stopped him.

A press report alleges he was engaged in prostitution, which the man denied.

Gulf Daily News reports that the man told police after his arrest:

“I don’t have a particular reason for dressing like a woman and walking on the streets, but after I dropped my wife at her father’s house, I purchased the clothes and wore them.”

Bahrain is known as one of the more tolerant Muslim nations in the Middle East, and has recently undergone a period of political liberalisation.

However, homosexuality remains a crime, and the government has periodically deported expatriates because of their sexual orientation.

As part of a recent panic about homosexuality, gay sites such as were blocked by the government.

A session of Parliament in the Gulf state began last October with calls for a crackdown on gays.

Al Menbar MP Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed said:

“We have homosexual rates on the rise, with such people working in flower shops, massage parlours or barber’s salons.

“Sluts walk around residential neighbourhoods untouched.”

In April Parliament demanded that the Interior Ministry stop granting any residence permits to foreign homosexuals.

Bahrain only held its first elections in 2002, and since then politicians have mainly addressed themselves to “moral” issues such as banning female mannequins from shop windows and tackling the widespread problem of “sorcery.”

In 2002 the government deported 2,000 gay Filipino workers for homosexual activity and prostitution.

More: Middle East

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