A member of the Australian parliament expressed opposition to a new airline deal between Qantas and Emirates, citing concerns that passengers traveling through Dubai may be unaware of its strict morality laws and could be subject to unfair imprisonment.
MP Helen Kroger of the center-right Liberal Party warned that Australian citizens who were homosexual, women, Jewish or Christian would be especially vulnerable when passing through Dubai, pointing to previous cases where foreigners have been arrested for crimes that would otherwise be considered legal in their home countries.
“I cannot put the commercial interests of our premier carrier before the human rights and safekeeping of Australian citizens which are still under threat today,” Kroger told Parliament, the Daily Telegraph reported. “It is still happening in Dubai as we speak.”
Kroger cited the case of one Australian woman who had gone to the police in Dubai to report she had been raped after her drink was drugged only to have authorities charge her for having sex outside of marriage and imprison her for eight months.
The parliamentarian also pointed out a section in Dubai’s penal code that imposes prison sentences of up to 10 years for consensual sodomy.
“Will there be warnings to gay Australians who transit through Dubai?" Kroger asked Parliament, the Telegraph reported.
Kroger added that Jewish and Christian Australians traveling to or have traveled to Israel could face discrimination.
“There are potential issues for Australians of Jewish decent and for Australian Christians who have made pilgrimage to Israel,” she told Parliament, the Australian reported.
“As the UAE is a participant in the Arab League boycott of Israel, concerns exist for any Australians that may have the stamp of Israel in their passport. The same concern applies to dual Australia-Israel citizens who carry an Israeli passport.''
Kroger, however, did not specify any cases of discrimination against Australian Jews or Christians traveling through Dubai.
The airline deal, already signed last week, shifts Qantas’ transit hub from Singapore to Dubai.