A transgender woman and her male friend are facing a year behind bars after being charged for ‘crossdressing’ in the United Arab Emirates.
Singaporeans Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim (known as Fifi) and Fadli Bin Abdul Rahman were in a food court in the Yas mall in Abu Dhabi when they were arrested for wearing female clothing and ‘indecent behaviour’.
Fadli is a well-known fashion photographer—who has previously worked for Esquire and Burberry— and the pair were in the country for a photo shoot.
“As a fashion photographer, Fadli is very ahead of his time. He likes to push his creative boundaries and his work can be thought-provoking at times,” stylist Randolph Tan told Yahoo.
The friends and families of Fadli and Fifi have set up a crowd funding page to help cover legal fees in an attempt to secure their release.
On a Facebook page that’s been set up called ‘Free Fadli and Fifi’, Fadli’s sister described the circumstances that led to the arrest.
“Fadli called home yesterday and said that he was arrested by the Tourism Police for wearing a tie and earrings while they were walking around a mall looking for food!!” she wrote.
Singaporean woman Jocelyn Teo is also working on the campaign and said on Facebook that it was a "race against time".
"Very angry at the situation, very angry at how things turned out," she wrote.
"Very angry for listening to the embassy when they said no need lawyer because might "antagonise them" when our gut instinct says get lawyer. we expected that they'd be able to advise us better on local customs/ nuances/stuff you know. I don't think they know anything."
The campaign has so far raised $20,000—just over 80 per cent of the goal needed to employ two lawyers in the UAE.
The legal team will then have until Septemeber 4 to appeal the one-year prison sentence that Fadli and Fifi are facing.