Wales rugby team to wear rainbow laces for ex-captain Gareth Thomas

Wales rugby team to wear rainbow laces for ex-captain Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas of Crusaders in action during the Engage Super League Match between Crusaders RL and Salford City Reds at Millennium Stadium on February 13, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales. (Stu Forster/Getty Images) Wales’ national rugby teams will sport rainbow laces in support of their former captain Gareth Thomas, who was subjected to a homophobic attack in Cardiff last week.

The Welsh Rugby Team confirmed the men’s and women’s squads will don Stonewall’s rainbow laces for Thomas in both their games on Saturday (November 24).

The women’s team will play against Canada and the men’s will take on South Africa. “And so the support for LGBT continues. Thank you from the whole community.”

It comes after the French national team announced they would wear rainbow laces in solidarity with Thomas in their match against Fiji on Saturday.

“Wales & Wales Women will again support @StonewallCymru #RainbowLacesDay campaign & show their support to former captain @gareththomas14 by wearing #RainbowLaces in their fixtures this weekend,” the Welsh Rugby Union posted on Twitter. Welsh Rugby Union posted on Twitter endorsing Stonewall’s rainbow laces campaign in solidarity with former captain Gareth Thomas. (WelshRugbyUnion/Twitter) Gareth Thomas thanks Wales squad for support

Thomas praised his old team for wearing the laces, posting on Twitter: “And so the support for LGBT continues.Thank you from the whole community…”

He previously thanked the French team for their support.

Thomas posted a video on Twitter on Sunday (November 18), explaining that he was attacked in The Hayes, Cardiff City Centre, because he is gay.

“Last night I was the victim in my home city of a hate crime for my sexuality,” he said.

The sportsman had visible scratches on his head and appeared to have suffered bruising as a result of the attack.

He called for restorative justice over the attack.

Restorative justice focuses on rehabilitating offenders through reconciliation with their victims.

“I want to say thank you to the police, who were involved and allowed me to do restorative justice to the people that did this because I thought they could learn more that way,” Thomas said.

The rugby star came out as gay in 2009 and has since campaigned for LGBT rights.

According to a press release put out by South Wales Police on Sunday (November 18), a 16-year-old boy “admitted assault and was apologetic for his actions.” On Wednesday , Thomas posted a further statement on Twitter about the impact the attack has had on his mental health, and thanked the French team for their solidarity.

Thomas wrote: “After the physical scars have healed, I feel I have to say an unbelievable THANK YOU from me and all in the LGBT community for the support I have received. Truly humbled.

“My mental scars will stay with me for some time, but will drive me to fight even more for a world where acceptance of everyone is normal.

“To the French rugby federation, merci. The players wearing rainbow laces in solidarity is an immense sign of inclusion.” Sporting figures showed their love for Gareth Thomas

Figures from the sporting world have offered Gareth Thomas their support.

Sports presenter Gabby Logan tweeted : “Loads of love big man xx.”

Former English rugby player Maggie Alphonsi posted: “I’m so sorry this has happened to you Gareth. Thank you for speaking out about it and bringing this to our attention. It’s sad to think there are still small minded people out there.

“They are the minority but the majority are with you. You are a true role model to me and us all x.”

ITV sports presenter Jill Douglas said : “Well put Alfie [Thomas’ nickname] – very sorry you had to experience this, but a typically positive and uplifting reaction. Big.”

Buddhist monk ‘filmed having meth-fuelled gay sex in temple’

Buddhist monk ‘filmed having meth-fuelled gay sex in temple’

The Buddhist monk was arrested and expelled after the gay sex films were leaked (mirror media) A rising star Buddhist monk in Taiwan has been arrested and expelled after he was allegedly filmed having gay sex and smoking meth in his temple.

Master Kai Hung, 29, was secretary general of the Chinese Young Buddhist Association until his room in Taiwan ‘s Chongfo Temple was raided in November by police, who found 19 grams of amphetamine tablets, smoking pipes and a holy water bottle filled with lube, according to Shanghaiist .

Officers also discovered condoms, anal relaxants, erection medication and aphrodisiacs, as well as two USB drives containing more than 200GB of porn, including videos of Kai Hung, it’s claimed. Kai Hung has denied that he gave drugs to other monks (mirror media) The films, which were released on Tuesday (November 20) by Taiwanese news outlet Mirror Media , allegedly show Kai Hung having gay sex and smoking meth.

In one clip, the man talks to the camera about how much he loves his “husband.”

Taiwan has not yet legalised same-sex marriage, but may do on Saturday (November 24) when the country is set to vote on the issue in a referendum.

According to Shanghaiist, when authorities arrived to raid the temple in north-west Taiwan, monks tried to stall them by talking loudly so Kai Hung could have the chance to hide. The monk’s alleged gay sex videos were leaked on November 20 (mirror media) Monk faces consequences of drug-fuelled gay sex films

Kai Hung was arrested by police and charged with violating the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act, before being released on a NT$100,000 (£2,500) bail.

The disciple, who was taught by the chairman of the Buddhist Association of China in Taiwan and seen as a future leader after converting to Buddhism at 14, changed his behaviour drastically after the death of his mentor, Master Chihhai, Taiwan News has reported.

In September, he was expelled from another institution, Tongshan Temple in the south of the country, after allegedly providing drugs to fellow monks before having gay sex with them.

Two months later, he was kicked out of Chongfo Temple following the police raid, for what monks there described as “religious discipline problems.”

Kai Hung has admitted to police officers that he took drugs, but insisted that he never gave them to anyone else. Taiwan hasn’t legalised same-sex marriage yet, but may on Saturday (November 24) (CHRIS STOWERS/AFP/Getty) He has also claimed that the videos had been leaked as part of a campaign by Tongshan Temple to smear his name over a property dispute.

Jing Yao, the chairman of the Buddhist Association of China in Taiwan, and Kai Hung’s former teacher, said: “I deeply regret that the unlawful conduct of Kai Hung has caused a negative backlash against the Buddhist world.

“I also feel deeply ashamed that I did not inspect his behaviour as a fellow Buddhist monk.”

Hong Kong lawmakers reject gay civil unions in 27-24 vote

Hong Kong lawmakers reject gay civil unions in 27-24 vote

Participants hold a large rainbow flag as they take part in the annual pride parade at Victoria park in Hong Kong on November 17, 2018. (YAN ZHAO/AFP/Getty) Lawmakers in Hong Kong have narrowly rejected a push towards recognition of LGBT+ rights regarding gay civil unions.

Raymond Chan, Hong Kong’s first openly gay lawmaker, put a bill before the autonomous region’s legislative council that would have opened the door to permitting recognition of same-sex partnerships with gay civil unions.

Although attitudes towards homosexuality are more progressive in Hong Kong than in mainland China, the region has no process for legal recognition of same-sex relationships, and gay couples have limited rights in the region. Hong Kong lawmaker Raymond Chan (PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty) Chan, of the People Power party, submitted a bill seeking a “small step” towards recognition of same-sex unions and LGBT+ rights.

But the bill, which contained few concrete provisions, was rejected in a 27-24 vote in the city legislature.

According to the South China Morning Post , the pro-Beijing lawmakers who hold control in the Legislative Council largely voted against the measure.

Holden Chow of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong warned that society would suffer if it bowed to “Western traditions,” while Priscilla Leung of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong claimed bolstering gay rights would undermine “social and family stability.” Hong Kong’s new visa rules recognise gay civil unions

The vote comes less than a week after Hong Kong’s LGBT+ community took to the streets for the city’s annual Pride parade.

Thousands of people attended the parade on Saturday (November 17), with attendees calling for better rights protections. Participants hold a large rainbow flag as they take part in the annual Hong Kong pride parade on November 17, 2018. (YAN ZHAO/AFP/Getty) In July, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ruled that same-sex couples who have entered unions elsewhere must have their relationships recognised as part of the spousal visa application process, following a high-profile challenge from a lesbian couple.

A revised government policy that went into effect in September in the wake of the ruling allows the recognition of same-sex unions for visa applications, but no other element of law. Public support LGBT+ rights in Hong Kong

The lack of visible progress on LGBT+ rights comes despite public opinion.

A 2017 University of Hong Kong study found that more than half of people in Hong Kong support same-sex marriage, putting public opinion in the region in conflict with views in mainland China, where more conservative beliefs persist. Hong Kong couple C.P. So and Alvin Chan hold an unrecognised same-sex marriage ceremony on May 5, 2018 (DALE DE LA REY/AFP/Getty) However, there are also anti-LGBT voices in Hong Kong.

Dominic Lee, a conservative Liberal Party councillor and spokesperson for the group Ban Gay Marriage HK, claimed in July that people in the United States and United Kingdom are becoming gay because of the introduction of same-sex marriage.

Speaking at a forum on LGBT rights, the politician warned that recognising same-sex unions in Hong Kong would open a Pandora’s Box.

According to the Hong Kong Free Press , Lee warned: “The top 10 states with greatest proportion of [people who are] LGBTQ are also states where same-sex marriage was legal for the longest.

“In the UK, some places after they legalised same-sex marriage, there is an increase in number of people who say they are LGBTQ.”

He added: “If [the courts] recognise the status of same-sex couples, that will grant them rights in Hong Kong such as the right to education. That coerces the government, as well as taxpayers who don’t accept same-sex marriage, to recognise their relationship.

“It expanded the definition of spouse – from spouses of opposite sex to spouses of the same sex.”

Rita Ora: I want girls to have the confidence to come out as gay

Rita Ora: I want girls to have the confidence to come out as gay

Rita Ora attends the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 at the Theatre Royal on November 18, 2018 in London, England. (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images) Pop star Rita Ora has said she hopes her controversial track “Girls” helps girls to come out to their parents as gay.

Speaking to Stylist , Ora said she knew their would be a strong reaction to her single, in which she came out as bisexual. “I wanted to give people that bit of hope to get through it. It was my story and my truth.”

—Rita Ora A number of queer musicians, including Kehlani and Hayley Kiyoko, criticised Ora for her song, slamming it as “downright tone-deaf.” Rita Ora performs during the 92nd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade day two of rehearsals on November 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty) Rita Ora: “Girls” was “my story and my truth”

Ora told Stylist : “That was a really sensitive subject for me; it was my story and I knew it was going to be a bit of a shock for people because I’d never spoken about it in public before.

“I don’t think I would be doing this today if it wasn’t for the LGBTQ community and I would do anything for them as well as all my fans.

“This was a moment in time when I wanted to give confidence to girls who are trapped and feel like they can’t tell their parents that they are gay. “I wanted to give people that bit of hope to get through it. It was my story and my truth.”

Ora said she “wasn’t scared” to come out as bisexual, but added: “I waited for a reason, because none of the times before felt right. I’m an adult.” Model Cara Delevingne (L) and singer Rita Ora in Beverley Hills, California, in 2015. (Rachel Murray/Getty) Rita Ora previously apologised over offence caused by “Girls”

The singer previously posted on Twitter responding to backlash over the track, which also features Charli XCX, Cardi B and Bebe Rexha.

“Girls was written to represent my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life,” she wrote.

“I have had romantic relationships with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey,” she added, appearing to confirm that she is attracted to women, which the singer implied last week.

She added: “I am sorry [if] how I expressed myself in my song has hurt anyone. I would never intentionally cause harm to other LGBTQ+ people or anyone.”

Despite the criticism, several LGBT+ celebrities including Cara Delevingne and Olly Alexander sprang to Ora’s defence over the song.

Charli XCX , who features on “Girls,” also backed Ora and said the singer had “every right” to tell her story.

Cardi B , meanwhile, posted on Twitter that she has had “experiences” with “a lot of women.”

Woman tricked homophobes to donate to Pride organisers

Woman tricked homophobes to donate to Pride organisers

Writer Eun Ha-sun posted a number of Facebook that directed donations to the Seoul Queer Culture Festival. (Eun Ha-Sun/Facebook) A South Korean writer has been fined for trolling homophobes that were attacking her pro-LGBT+ appearance on a TV show.

Feminist writer Eun Ha-sun took part in the Candid Men and Women show on South Korean channel Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in December 2017, The Korea Herald reported.

Anti-LGBT religious viewers took issue with the programme and barraged Eun and others who appeared on the show with criticism. “Dear children of God who oppose homosexuality. The producer’s contact number of ‘Candid Men and Women’ has been changed. Make sure to text to this number: #2540-6550.” (Eun Ha-Sun/Facebook) The writer, who has often been outspoken in her support of LGBT+ issues, then decided to write a post on social media directing those who wanted to complain about the show to a phone number.

“Dear children of God who oppose homosexuality. The producer’s contact number of ‘Candid Men and Women’ has been changed. Make sure to text to this number: #2540-6550,” the post read.

Contrary to her claim, the number directed to donating the equivalent of £2 to the Seoul Queer Culture Festival, the group that organises the annual LGBT+ Pride event held in the South Korean capital. “None of this would have happened had there not been hatred towards LGBT+ people.”

Around 90 people unknowingly made the donations, but a court fined Eun for the equivalent of £1,375 at a ruling on Monday (November 19) as part of a religious group’s lawsuit against the writer.

Eun plans to appeal the verdict at a further court appearance scheduled for December 7, claiming that it was clear her post was a joke.

“It wouldn’t make sense for someone who had been on the show for a year to share a producer’s personal phone number or encourage people to text complaints,” she told The Herald.

She added that a simple online search would have shown that the number posted was the Seoul Queer Culture Festival’s donation number. Participants pose for a photo before anti-gay slogans during a gay rights march in Seoul on July 15, 2017. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty) In a message on Facebook posted after the verdict on Monday, Eun thanked people who have shown support for her legal battle.

“None of this would have happened if there were no anti-LGBT hatred,” she wrote, sharing screenshots of the text messages homophobes sent to the number she had posted, complaining about the show discussing LGBT issues. Homophobes protested the Seoul Queer Culture Festival earlier this year

A petition against the Seoul Queer Culture Festival, organised for the 19th time this year, gathered more than 200,000 signatures earlier this year in an attempt to stop the LGBT pride parade from taking place.

Homosexuality is not illegal in South Korea, but same-sex marriage and adoption are prohibited and protections against discrimination remain limited.

A ban on gay sex persists among the armed forces —and two years of military service is compulsory for men aged 18 to 35.

Teen assaulted and left to die for being a ‘greedy bisexual’

Teen assaulted and left to die for being a ‘greedy bisexual’

The bisexual teenager was attacked after a day with friends in Nuneaton (Pexels) A bisexual teenager has been assaulted, called a “greedy bisexual” and left for dead in a vicious attack in Nuneaton.

The attackers, who like the victim cannot be named, were spared jail time after pleading guilty to committing assault, and were instead handed referral orders and an order to pay compensation, according to CoventryLive .

Speaking out after the end of legal proceedings, the victim’s mum emotionally explained how her son was left with physical and mental scars by the beating in the central England town, saying that the perpetrators “both practically got away with it.” The schoolboy was traumatised by the attack (Pexels) Bisexual teenager ‘attacked because of his sexuality’

The mother said that her son had been out with friends all day when “they were approached by one of [the two attackers], who said: ‘What you hanging round with him for, you do know he is bi.’

“Then another said: ‘Is this right?’ and attacked him.

“Another of them said: ‘I can’t believe you hit him because he is gay,’ but one of them said: ‘I haven’t got a problem with gay people, but I have got a problem with greedy bis like him.’” “If you give our names to the police, we will find you and kill you”

— The bisexual teenager’s attackers After knocking the schoolboy to the ground, she said that the teenagers “kicked him on the floor, dragged him into a wooded area and attacked him again.” The bisexual teenager’s attackers threatened him to keep their identities secret (Pexels) They then told the bisexual teenager to report his attackers as being “three lads in balaclavas,” she said, adding he had been warned: “If you give our names to the police, we will find you and kill you.”

When he arrived home, his mother said she “didn’t even recognise him. You could see a trainer mark on his face. I went into shock, I wanted to cry but I couldn’t.”

The schoolboy initially stuck to this story, she said, before revealing the truth once they arrived at the hospital . Attack traumatised bisexual teenager

The schoolboy’s family has had to move out of Nuneaton (Pexels) But despite the scars healing, the child has been plagued by nightmares and psychologically affected to the extent that his family has moved out of Nuneaton.

His mother said that she had “found him huddled with his hands over his head,” and that for months after the attack, the schoolboy “became a recluse” and wouldn’t leave their Nuneaton home.

The move has made the bisexual teenager “a lot happier” and led to him going out again, his mum said, but she admitted: “I don’t know if he will ever be back to what he was.”

By getting his story out there, she explained that “he just wants to stop any other kids going through what he has been through” by urging that attackers like his to be punished more severely.

Historic lesbian kiss at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Historic lesbian kiss at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The lesbian kiss at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade caused a stir (nbc) The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has featured seemingly its first ever lesbian kiss on live TV.

The passionate embrace, which took place during a performance of “Build a Prom” from new Broadway musical The Prom , was broadcast by NBC to an estimated audience of 50 million people who tuned in for the annual parade through the streets of New York City.

Multiple same-sex partners also danced together during the number from The Prom , which is about a queer teenager in Indiana whose high school prom is cancelled after the authorities find out she wants to bring her girlfriend to the event. The lesbian kiss, as seen from above (NBC) The lesbian kiss prompted passionate responses

The heartwarming moment, which as far as we can tell marked the first same-sex kiss of any kind to be shown from the parade, came during an event which is a staple in many families’ Thanksgiving Day routines.

This may be why it provoked a range of reactions, from happy astonishment to snarling outrage.

One indignant viewer wrote that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade “has totally went to the crapper with a lesbian kiss on national TV while millions of children watch two women make out on a Thanksgiving.”

They told parents: “DONT LET KIDS WATCH THIS STUFF!!!! Boycott #Macy’s this was a total #abomination!!!” “DONT LET KIDS WATCH THIS STUFF!!!! Boycott #Macy’s this was a total #abomination!!!” (extrmlifechager/twitter) And another hater tweeted: “What a horrible start to Macy parade. NBC and Macy’s should be ashamed of displaying a Lesbian kiss. This is why we do not watch NBC or shop at Macy’s. Not thankful for this.”

But they were drowned out by the countless viewers who loved seeing the kiss.

One such fan wrote: “that cute ass lesbian kiss on the Macy’s parade has me crying at 9am,” while another said: “WE JUST GOT A LESBIAN KISS ON THE F**KING MACY’S PARADE???? TWENTY GAY TEEN REALLY IS REAL WE STAN PROM THE MUSICAL.”

The moment prompted one tweeter to matter-of-factly announce their life debt to the department store, writing: “Macy’s jus aired a lesbian kiss in front of millions of people in their thanksgiving day parade I guess I owe Macy’s my life now huh.” “Hell yeah, I hope all the homophobes are screamingggg ” (bellajannette/twitter) Another commenter made an important point, saying they were thankful that “the beautiful lesbian kiss the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just showed front and centre instead of conveniently panning away.”

One user responded to the kiss by writing: “Hell yeah, I hope all the homophobes are screamingggg .”

In a similar vein, many people were delighted that their anti-gay relatives had to sit through such a glorious display of queer pride. “My homophobic relatives are shaking” (Twitter) NBC has a history of showing live gay kisses

This wasn’t the first time NBC has shown a historic live same-sex embrace.

The US broadcaster’s coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics included a kiss between openly gay US skier Gus Kenworthy and his partner , Matthew Wilkas, which prompted a mass celebration on social media.

It was just a peck on the lips, but the fact that it took place on NBC, live on primetime network TV, in front of tens of millions internationally, made it historic. Gus Kenworthy kisses his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas (NBC) The broadcaster attracted praise for treating the moment as a run-of-the-mill expression of affection, with the NBC commentator simply introducing viewers to Kenworthy’s “boyfriend, Matt Wilkas.”

Kenworthy, who came out in 2015 , the year after the previous Winter Olympics, explained that the kiss was “something that I wanted at the last Olympics,” adding that he had been “too scared” at the time.

The skier said that “to be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcasted for the world is incredible.”

Watch the wonderful lesbian kiss here:

In charts: Report into children’s mental health

In charts: Report into children's mental health

Nearly one in four young women has some form of mental illness, a new NHS report has found. LGBT teens are also much more at risk.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 9,000 young people in England, the first update of the report in 13 years.

Overall, among children aged five to 15, one in nine had a mental health disorder, up from one in 10 in the previous study. 1. Mental illness more common among young women

Young women aged 17 to 19 are more than twice as likely to be struggling as young men the same age, with anxiety and depression the most common disorders. Girls are more likely to struggle with mental health as they reach young adulthood. For boys, meanwhile, the prevalence of mental illness doesn’t change much among the age groups surveyed, even decreasing slightly among older teens.

Among primary-aged children, boys are nearly twice as likely to have some form of mental disorder, with some kind of behavioural disorder being the most common. Mental health: One in four young women struggling

Child mental health referrals up 26% in five years, says report

When it feels like no-one is listening

2. Girls are far more likely than boys to have self-harmed

Of young women aged 17 to 19 with some kind of mental illness, more than half reported that they had self-harmed or attempted suicide.

Just over one in three young men with a mental illness reported the same. The rate of girls who have self-harmed jumps from under a third among those aged 11 to 16, to more than half among older teens. 3. LGBT teens much more likely to be struggling

The NHS report also looked at sexual identity and mental health.

Among teenagers aged 14 to 19, those who aren’t heterosexual are more than 2.5 times as likely to have some kind of mental illness. 4. Under-fives studied for the first time

The 2017 survey looked at pre-school children for the first time. It found that overall, 5.5% of children aged between two and four were experiencing a mental disorder.

Children were only counted if they met criteria for a diagnosable disorder, rather than episodes of "the terrible twos" behaviour which are common among this age group. There were higher rates for boys than for girls, particularly among behavioural disorders. 5. The impact of income

The report found a link between poverty and poor mental health. Children and young people living in households with the lowest income levels were more than twice as likely to have a disorder as those in the highest income households. The effect was even more pronounced among households where a parent was receiving benefits related to low income or disability. Almost a third (31.8%) of children and young people with a parent receiving disability benefits had a mental disorder. 6. Rates vary between ethnic groups

White British children are much more likely to be struggling, as the report found that they were nearly three times as likely to have some form of disorder as black and Asian children. Black and Asian girls are much more likely than boys within the same group to report mental health issues. Among White British children, rates are the same for boys and girls.

The survey was conducted in English and the report’s authors noted that this may have an effect on responses among some ethnic minority groups but not enough to override the findings.

Why is the UAE’s legal system being criticised?

Why is the UAE's legal system being criticised?

Matthew Hedges was detained at Dubai Airport in May The treatment of a British academic jailed for life in the United Arab Emirates has been widely criticised by British politicians and human rights organisations.

Matthew Hedges was sentenced in a court in Abu Dhabi for spying.

His wife says there was no due process and the evidence against him was unfounded.

The UAE Attorney General Dr Hamad Saif Al Shamsi said Mr Hedges had "confessed in detail to his crimes" and was "accorded full rights" with a "fair and transparent trial". How was Mr Hedges’ trial conducted?

In the UAE defendants have the right to a lawyer at the time of trial, says Hiba Zayadin of Human Rights Watch, but not during pre-trial detention.

According to the UAE foreign ministry , Mr Hedges accepted the services of a court-appointed lawyer in the first court session on 3 October.

A ministry statement said the case against Mr Hedges was thoroughly investigated by the public prosecutor and "compelling and powerful evidence was presented in court."

The trial on 21 November reportedly lasted just a few minutes. But, according to the foreign ministry, this is common because the court session was only to announce a verdict and deliver a sentence. The court, said the ministry, had met previously.

Mr Hedge’s wife, Daniela Tejada, said he had been kept in solitary confinement for weeks without access to legal help .

During that period, his family says he signed what transpired to be a confession in Arabic. Mr Hedges, according to his family, does not speak or read Arabic.

Legal documents in the UAE are required to be in Arabic, says Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, an academic based in the UAE.

"When [these documents are] presented to someone who doesn’t speak Arabic, there is a translator who explains it word by word."

"Yes he signed an Arabic document because this is the law of the land here, but he was given the full right to a translation."

Ms Zayadin says these rights are not always observed, and the quality of translation services can vary. A court in Abu Dhabi handed down the sentence. The importance of a confession

Ms Zayadin says the charges against Mr Hedges seem to have been largely based on a confession.

She says it is common in Gulf countries for a confession to be the main grounds on which a guilty verdict is delivered, particularly in state security cases such as this.

But these, she says, can be problematic.

Human Rights Watch has documented many allegations in the region of confessions which have been forcibly obtained without the presence of a lawyer, and defendants denied legal counsel or access to family members. What are the wider criticisms of the UAE’s legal system?

When a senior UN official investigated the UAE’s judicial system in 2014, she found serious shortcomings.

In her report, Gabriela Knaul – the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers – said she had found reports of "serious breaches of fair trial and due process guarantees."

The report also noted instances where "judges appear to have lacked impartiality and shown bias, especially with regard to non-nationals of the United Arab Emirates."

Difficulties with the use of translators in the UAE have also been noted by the UN. The Special Rapporteur found that translations and interpretation in court cases involving non-Arabic speakers, required by law, "were not always provided in practice, or that their quality was poor."

Radha Stirling from Detained in Dubai, an organisation which has provided representation for foreign nationals in the UAE, says signing a confession without a translator in the UAE is "standard practice."

Accusations alone, with "zero evidence", can be enough to secure prosecution, she says.

In response to the criticisms levelled at the UAE, the justice ministry said the constitution guaranteed an independent judiciary and that the country was committed to strengthening human rights. Read more from Reality Check Send us your questions

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UAE spy row: Matthew Hedges’s wife ‘can’t fight alone’

UAE spy row: Matthew Hedges's wife 'can't fight alone'

Daniela Tejada met Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to discuss her husband’s case The wife of a British academic jailed for spying in the United Arab Emirates says she cannot win the fight to free him alone.

After a meeting with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Daniela Tejada said he had assured her he was doing all he could.

Matthew Hedges was sentenced to life imprisonment but denies spying.

Mr Hunt revealed he had "constructive" talks with his opposite number in the UAE and said he believes moves are being made to "resolve the situation".

Speaking outside the Foreign Office, Ms Tejada thanked Mr Hunt for "taking the time" to meet her at "this crucial point".

"He has assured me that he and his team are doing everything in their power to get Matt free and return him home to me," she said.

"This is not a fight I can win alone and I thank the Foreign Office and the British public for now standing up for one of their citizens." Today I saw Matthew Hedges’ wife Daniela & UAE Ambassador. I’ve just had a constructive conversation with UAE FM Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed. I believe & trust he’s working hard to resolve the situation asap. We’ve a close partnership with UAE which will help us take things forward — Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) November 22, 2018 Report

Mr Hunt tweeted he had "just had a constructive conversation with UAE FM [Foreign Minister] Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed".

"I believe and trust he’s working hard to resolve the situation asap," he posted.

"We’ve a close partnership with UAE which will help us take things forward." Matthew Hedges was arrested in the UAE in May Mr Hedges had been in the country conducting research on the UAE’s security strategy for his PhD thesis when he was arrested at Dubai airport.

Prosecutors said the 31-year-old, who is originally from Exeter, had confessed to spying. Why is the UAE’s legal system being criticised?

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country was "determined to protect its important strategic relationship with a key ally" and added it hoped both sides could find "an amicable solution" to the case.

The country’s Attorney General Dr Hamad Saif Al Shamsi previously said Mr Hedges had the right to appeal.

Abdulla Al Naqbi, head of the ministry’s Department of Legal Affairs, said "families also have the right to appeal for presidential clemency on behalf of convicted relatives".

In a statement, Mr Al Naqbi said "compelling and powerful evidence was presented in court" and that this included Mr Hedges’ own confession.

Mr Hedges was offered, and accepted, the services of a court-appointed lawyer and was also provided with translators, he said.

"It is not true that he was asked to sign documents he did not understand," Mr Al Naqbi said.