The Portuguese government has confirmed it is trying to help an 18-year-old Portuguese transsexual who has been ordered to pay a €478 fine for “transvestism” and is currently being held in Dubai.
“From the moment we heard about the case through Amnesty International, we were in permanent contact with the Embassy, the family of the youngster, the local authorities and Dubai police,” said José Cesário, the Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities Abroad.
According to national press, Sofia Janeiro and her 36-year-old Spanish partner Alessandra Chanel were arrested on January 22 in front of a bathroom at the Burj Jalifa metro station in Dubai.
Although they are both legally identified as women in their passports, they have been accused of “transvestism” as Dubai does not acknowledge the existence of transsexuals.
They were ordered to pay €478 fines and leave the country.
Spanish news agency Efe reports that they still remain in Dubai because they don’t have the money to pay the fines.
“We want to take care of this as fast as possible, but we have to realise they both committed a crime according to local laws,” Cesário said, adding that the situation is “extremely delicate”.
By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]