Kuwait: Outrage at homophobic 'medical tests' for migrant workers

The proposed introduction of  compulsory ‘medical tests’ to bar migrant workers deemed homosexual or transgender from entering Kuwait and other Gulf countries, is outrageous and should be rejected out of hand, Amnesty International said today.

Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther, said:

“This proposal will only further stigmatise people who already suffer extremely high levels of discrimination and abuse on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It is an affront to the fundamental human right to privacy and underscores the continuing persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Instead of continuing to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals, the authorities in Kuwait should work to ensure that people are not harassed and abused because of who they are and should repeal laws that criminalise sexual acts between consenting adults.”

Under the new proposal put forward on Monday by Dr Yousuf Mendkar, the Director of Public Health at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health, anyone deemed homosexual or transgender after the ‘medical test’ will automatically be prevented from entering the country. The proposal will be debated at a meeting of the Central Committee for Expatriate Labour Forces Programme of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Oman today.

Migrant workers from certain countries, mostly in South and South East Asia, are required to undergo medical assessments when they apply for permits to work in Kuwait and other GCC countries. The proposal, if passed, would add the new ‘medical test’ to these assessments.

In Kuwait, sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex are illegal and can be punished with up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Under the country’s Penal Code ‘imitating members of the opposite sex’ is also a criminal offence, punishable with a monetary fine or a prison sentence of up to one year.

Amnesty has documented increasing reports of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Kuwait in recent years. These include reports of harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, abuse, torture and sexual assault.

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