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Laws on Consensual Relationships and Privacy Amended in UAE’s Largest Ever Legal Reform

HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. Photo: Wam

Marking the UAE’s Year of the 50th, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, has approved a draft of civil legislative reforms that aim to maintain social stability and enrich economic and investment opportunities in the country. The amended laws, which will come into effect on January 2, 2022, are intended to keep up with the country’s development and reflect its future aspirations, marking its largest legal amendment in its last 50 years.

Easing restrictions on extramarital relationships, a new UAE law effectively decriminalizes cohabitation and consensual relationships out of wedlock. Any pregnancy resulting from the relationship will not be considered law-breaking if the couple agrees to marry, singly, or jointly acknowledge the child with all necessary identification papers. The child will be cared for if the couple provides travel documents in accordance with the country of origin, considering the laws of that nation. Failure to supply the requirements would entice two years in prison for both correspondents.

To combat cyber crimes and online harassment, any form of fake news spreading and bullying is considered illegal. The Online Security Law would be one of the first legal frameworks in the region to tackle concerns raised by online technologies and their abuse. The law also prohibits the possession of personal data without the consent of its owner, unless its processing is essential for the protection of public interest, vital for specific legal procedures, or if it is unveiled to the public by the owner.

As per the new law, alcohol consumption is not permitted in public or unlicensed locations, and the sale, supply, incitement, or inducement under the age of 21 is considered illegal.

A detailed breakdown of the amended laws can be found here.

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