Bahrain: Transgender prostitutes lose appeal against jail term

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Two transgender prostitutes in Bahrain have lost an appeal against a six-month jail sentence.

Gulf Daily News reports the defendants, aged 19 and 20, told a judge they should have been jailed for three months and not six.

Court documents state the pair were arrested after police received a tip-off that they were wearing women’s clothing, make-up and wigs while they waited for clients in a coffee shop.

Both defendants pleaded guilty to charges of prostitution and homosexuality in Bahrain’s Lower Criminal Court.

They then lodged an appeal against their sentences at the High Criminal Appeals Court, which was rejected on Tuesday.

When they vocally protested over the sentence, the leading judge ordered them to be quiet and warned he would “jail them for two years” if he saw them again.

The 19-year-old spoke of having unsuccessfully attempted to pursue gender confirmation treatment.

“Since I was nine I felt like a woman and gay,” the teenager told prosecutors.

“I then started to have gay sex with a lot of men, but I felt bad.

“I went to the doctors, but nothing changed.

“My case developed and I started having more sex and dressing up as a woman, using wigs, makeup and female clothing.

“I started to meet men in coffee shops and started getting money for sex.

“I met with Qataris and Saudi men, who paid up to BD700 (£1,107) to have sex with me.”

Both defendants were earlier acquitted of misusing social media networks by posting provocative pictures of themselves in women’s clothing.

The pictures were attached to court documents as evidence.

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Bahrain since 1976. The age of consent for same-sex acts is 21.

The age of consent for heterosexual acts for men and women is 15 – but rises to 21 for women who want to marry without the consent of their father.

Bahrain has no legal protections governing sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGBT people are also banned from serving openly in the armed forces.