Kuwait Overturns Law Criminalizing “Imitation Of Opposite Sex”

The government of Kuwait on Wednesday announced overturning a law of the penal code criminalizing the “imitation of opposite sex”, a move the Amnesty International branded as a major breakthrough for transgender rights in the Gulf state.

Kuwaiti lawyer Ali al-Aryan has confirmed that the law had been repealed. “The law was overly vague and broad, and we based our defense on the existence of medical and constitutional foundations, as there are hormonal as well as psychological contributors,” Aryan told AFP. 

Aryan was the first lawyer in the Arab state who filed a lawsuit to overturn article 198 of the penal code two years ago as what he described as the violation of personal freedoms.

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, has welcomed the decision by Kuwaiti Constitutional Court’s, saying article 198 was “deeply discriminatory,” overly vague and never should have been accepted into law in the first place.

Maalouf also called on Kuwaiti authorities to immediately halt arbitrary arrests of transgender people and drop all charges and convictions brought against them under this trans-phobic law.

“All those unjustly imprisoned under Article 198 must now be released, including Maha al-Mutairi who was arrested solely for being a trans-woman,” Maalouf added.

In 2020, al-Mutairi posted video on Snapchat accusing police officers of raping and beating her during a seven-month period of detention in 2019 for “imitating the opposite sex”.

Maalouf also called for a thorough investigation to all allegations of torture by security forces and install an independent mechanism for monitoring police behavior after this.



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