Amnesty slams Kuwait plan for 'homosexuality tests'

Rights group says plan for compulsory medical tests are 'outrageous' and should be dropped
Amnesty slams Kuwait plan for 'homosexuality tests'
By Andy Sambidge
Sat 12 Oct 2013 10:43 AM

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 has said.

The rights group has hit out at proposals outlined in local Kuwait media earlier this week. Speaking to an Arabic language newspaper, Yousuf Mindkar, the director of public health at Kuwait’s Ministry of Health, said that a central committee will be set up to investigate the proposal when it convenes next month.

He claimed that the measure could also be introduced in all GCC states.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director, 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, anyone deemed homosexual or transgender after the ‘medical test’ will automatically be prevented from entering the country.

The proposal was set to be debated at a meeting of the Central Committee for Expatriate Labour Forces Programme of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Oman on Friday.

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.

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

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