Current Affairs

Kuwaiti transexuals arrested and beaten to ‘protect’ citizens

PinkNews Staff Writer June 18, 2008
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In an attempt to ‘protect its youth’ the Kuwaiti government is stepping up a campaign to ‘rid’ the country of gay and transexual citizens.

The Social Vice committee in Kuwait is in the process of organising a national conference in order to define the definition of ‘social vices’ and the ways to crackdown on them, said a former head of the committee.

Talking to the Kuwaiti newspaper Alaqabs, Mr Valid Tabtabii, a Kuwaiti MP, said that it is the responsibility of the parliament to undertake this campaign, especially since the country’s constitution states that the state has the responsibility to protect its youth.

Facing increasing criticism about the way they handle social issues, he labelled those criticisms as unjustified and accused his opponents of ignorance.

“Mankind is against anything he doesn’t understand,” he said.

The Committee also has the support of the Parliament, as it was formed on a request from 43 out of 50 MPs. It has so far played a significant role in the Kuwaiti society in cracking down on ‘social misconduct.’

Mr. Tabatabaii said that in the past, the Committee has tried to crackdown on “girly boys” and homosexuals, who promote crime and sexual immorality in the country. This crackdown happened in schools and other public places, without violating people’s privacy.

Last December, Kuwait’s parliament passed a law that criminalised “imitating the appearance of the opposite sex.”

The amendment states that “any person committing an indecent act in a public place, or imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex, shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or a fine.”

Subsequent roundups netted at least 16 suspects, New York-based Human Rights Watch reported, adding that three detainees were beaten.

The only known targets of the new Kuwaiti law have been transgender people.

Kuwait does not allow transgender people to change their legal identity to match the gender in which they live or to adapt their physical appearance through gender reassignment surgery.

In September 2007 Al Arabiya reported a new government campaign to “combat the growing phenomenon of gays and transsexuals” in Kuwait.

Mr. Mohammad Haiif, the spokesperson for the Parliamentary Study Group on Social Vice, told reporters yesterday that ” those suffering from queerness are in need of medical treatment for hormonal imbalance, and by doing so, we help them, and not harm them.”

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