Kuwait Police Target Transgender People with Eleven Jailed

Eleven transgender people arrested in Kuwait morality campaign  -and counting, as even private parties are not safe.

On 10 December 2007, the Kuwaiti parliament passed a bill proposed by Islamic MPs that amended article 198 of penal code so that anyone ‘imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex’ could be jailed for up to a year or fined up to 1,000 dinars ($3,500 €2,800). Islamic officials  described as ‘moral authority ’ have now been waging a campaign in Kuwait against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

According to a report by Dan Littauer  in GAY Star News, the Kuwait police recently arrested a transgender woman, who activists fear will be charged and tried for ‘imitating the opposite sex’.

According to Kuwaiti activists there are at least eleven transgender people being held in prison awaiting trial, six of them arrested in the last two weeks.

According to the report, a police patrol in the neighborhood of Salmiya, Kuwait City, stopped a car driven by a woman. The two policemen interviewed the person and became ‘suspicious’ because she had a ‘rough voice, which contradicted her feminine appearance’, (reported the daily Al-Rai on Sunday (28 October).

When questioned she claimed she forgot her identity card at home, but after the police applied ‘pressure’ officers found out that in fact the ‘driver was a man’. The car was then extensively searched police found women’s underwear and bras. The case was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Kuwait.

 Arab News also reports  “Party-goers’ in dawn raid caught wearing indecent clothes”-  On Oct 28, The Ahmadi police  arrested five people – four men and a woman – on the first day of Eid Al-Adha and referred them to the General Administration of Criminal Investigation Department, reports Al-Rai daily. According to security sources the suspects were arrested at dawn after they left an apartment in Mahboula. The security sources said when the suspects, who were reportedly partying the whole night and were under the influence of alcohol, saw the policemen, they tried in vain to re-enter the building. “The woman was also wearing indecent clothes.” according to the local report.

Littauer told me: “Transgender people have been particularly singled out in the morality campaigns, and lesbian, gay and bi citizens of Kuwait are also targeted, Gay Star News has previously reported in several cases, including mass arrests. On 24 April MP Dr Adel Al-Damkhi, a member of the parliamentary committee on tackling ‘practices alien to Kuwaiti society’, proposed to set up a ‘rehab center’ to ‘treat negative phenomena alien to Kuwaiti society,’ by which he meant LGBT people.

A transgender activist in Kuwait told Gay Star News: ‘The situation here is getting worse by the day.

‘To my knowledge there are now at least 11 transgender people detained in prison facing the same charges and waiting a trial, the other five are from previous arrests.’

‘The authorities are using the article prohibiting “imitating the opposite sex” to violate our freedom of expression, and as a political weapon. So transgender people have to be in disguise all the time, we can’t even leave home or walk among the society, we have to remain hidden for our safety and we’re treated as criminals.

‘Our country is regressing both legally and socially, sexual orientation and gender identity is increasingly talked about by politicians and the media as an “epidemic” that the country must get rid of.’

This law is causing substantial persecution and misery to transgender people in Kuwait which was slammed in a Human Rights Watch report published on 15 January this year criticizing arrests, torture and abuse of transgender people in the country.

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