Post submitted by Karim, HRC Global Engagement Intern
Last week, a proposal was announced in Kuwait to introduce medical examinations designed to identify and ban LGBT foreigners from entering and working in any of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries, which includes Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In response to the proposal, the human rights organization Amnesty International criticized the plan and urged Kuwait to reject the proposed homophobic ‘medical tests’ on migrant workers.
On Monday, a group of lawmakers from Kuwait condemned Amnesty International for its advocacy of the rights of “deviants.” The lawmakers went on to warn the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry to respond to Amnesty International “in particularly strong terms,” and that they would bring the matter to court if they were not satisfied with the Ministry’s response.
“Amnesty International should take care of lofty and noble goals for which it was established, leave aside homosexuality and deviations and stop defending delinquents,” MP Abdul Rahman Al Jiran told the Al Rai newspaper.
According to Tawfiq Khojah, the director-general of the Executive Office at the GCC Health Council, the medical tests will include a “mandatory examination to determine gender” as a necessary precaution to preserve Islamic principles.
This recent Kuwaiti proposal for mandatory medical tests is just one of many examples of the widespread homophobia and transphobia in the Middle East. Kuwait, like other GCC member countries, criminalizes homosexuality. In Kuwait, specifically, homosexuality can be punished with up to ten years of imprisonment. Saudi Arabia, another GCC country, mandates punishments that are much more severe, ranging from lashings to the death penalty. The Gulf region’s rigid intolerance towards homosexual and transgender individuals stems from the government’s strict adherence to conservative Sharia law.