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Social Issues
Kuwaiti Police Detain 215 People In Crackdown On Homosexuality
May 15, 2013
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The Kuwait Times report on the story (Photo: Twitter/Dan Nolan)

Police in Kuwait have arrested 215 gay men and lesbians following an investigation of "internet cafes and suspicious places across the country."

According to The Kuwait Times, "215 homosexual boys and girls belonging to different nationalities" were detained. The article goes on to say they are being held as "violators of residency law, drunkards, drug users, gamblers and people wanted in different criminal and civil cases."

The picture above, taken by Australian journalist Dan Nolan, shows the headline The Arab Times chose to run.

Kuwaiti police with some of the detained people (Photo: Kuwait Times)

This is just the latest in a recent series of Kuwaiti police crackdowns on LGBT people.

In February, 2012, the country's Islamist-led coalition won a major victory in parliamentary elections.

Since then, campaigns targeting LGBT people (as well as people "drinking alcohol, couples, parties, and any inappropriate kind of clothing") have intensified, Pink News reports.

Some of the incidents have been reported in the media: back in May, 2012, 149 people were arrested for "immoral" behaviour, including four gay men and two transgender women.

Then in June, 10 LGBT teenagers were arrested for "satanic rituals" and "indecent acts." According to Kuwaiti daily paper al-Rai, the teens were "suspected of homosexuality."

In November, Gay Star News reported that at least 13 transgender people were being detained in Kuwaiti prisons. All of them had been arrested and were awaiting trial.

An unnamed transgender activist told Gay Star, "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."

Under Kuwaiti laws, homosexuality between men over the age of 21 is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment. For those under 21, the maximum imprisonment is 10 years.

And according to Article 198 of the Penal Code, which was enacted in 2007, "public indecency" and "imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex" are both illegal, and subject to fines or imprisonment.

Sadly, Kuwait is not unique, or even an outlier, in its stance on LGBT people. In fact, homosexuality is illegal in many countries in the Middle East and around the world.

A Foreign Policy article titled 'The Continuing Battle for Gay Rights in the Middle East' points out that "same-sex acts are illegal in most Arab countries, and even in those where they are not other laws can be used - such as the law against 'habitual debauchery' in Egypt."

The piece also points out, though, that actual prosecution by authorities is not common, suggesting "this is mainly a result of denial: large numbers of prosecutions are to be avoided since that would cast doubt on the common official line that 'we don't have gay people here.'"

In certain countries, however, LGBT people face the very real threat of imprisonment - or even death.

Iran executed three men in 2011 after they were found guilty of "charges related to homosexuality," the Guardian reported. And in May 2012, four Iranian men were reportedly sentenced to death on sodomy charges.

Image: 76crimes.com

The website 76crimes.com has a list of "76+ (or 78 or 82) countries with anti-homosexuality laws," as compiled by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

The list reaches 82 by including political entities like Gaza/Palestine, Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, and Indonesia, where two large provinces consider homosexuality illegal.


1 Algeria
2 Angola
3 Benin
4 Botswana
5 Burundi
6 Cameroon
7 Comoros
8 Egypt
9 Eritrea
10 Ethiopia
11 Gambia
12 Ghana
13 Guinea
14 Kenya
15 Lesotho
16 Liberia
17 Libya
18 Malawi (enforcement of law suspended)
19 Mauritania
20 Mauritius
21 Morocco
22 Mozambique
23 Namibia
24 Nigeria
25 Sao Tome
26 Senegal
27 Seychelles
28 Sierra Leone
29 Somalia
30 South Sudan
31 Sudan
32 Swaziland
33 Tanzania
34 Togo
35 Tunisia
36 Uganda
37 Zambia
38 Zimbabwe

Asia, including the Middle East

39 Afghanistan
40 Bangladesh
41 Bhutan
42 Brunei
43 Iran
44 Kuwait
45 Lebanon
46 Malaysia
47 Maldives
48 Myanmar
49 Oman
50 Pakistan
51 Palestine/Gaza Strip
52 Qatar
53 Saudi Arabia
54 Singapore
55 Sri Lanka
56 Syria
57 Turkmenistan
58 United Arab Emirates
59 Uzbekistan
60 Yemen


61 Antigua & Barbuda
62 Barbados
63 Belize
64 Dominica
65 Grenada
66 Guyana
67 Jamaica
68 St Kitts & Nevis
69 St Lucia
70 St Vincent & the Grenadines
71 Trinidad & Tobago


72 Cook Islands
73 Indonesia (Aceh Province and South Sumatra)
74 Kirbati
75 Nauru
76 Palau
77 Papua New Guinea
78 Samoa
79 Solomon Islands
80 Tonga
81 Tuvalu


82 Northern Cyprus

Also getting a mention: Russia, where some cities and regions prohibit "public action aimed at propagandizing sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors", and Ukraine, which has considered a law against "gay propaganda" (so far, the country has not adopted the law).


Activists In Russia Say New Laws That Ban 'Homosexual Propaganda' Are Fuelling Attacks Against Gays

Thousands March Against Marriage Equality Bill In France

Former U.S. Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton Endorses Marriage Equality For Same-Sex Couples


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