Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises the gender identity/expression of trans people
Penal Code 1960, Article 193 Consensual Intercourse Between Men

Article 193 criminalises consensual sex between men, with a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment.1

Penal Code 1960, Article 198 Lewd Acts

Article 198 criminalises “imitations” of the opposite sex and is used to limit gender expression by LGBT people.2



A “moral” crackdown on the LGBT community was reported in August. Authorities deported 76 men and shut down 22 massage parlours that were suspected of being a hub for homosexual activity.


In May, 32 individuals were arrested for taking part in an alleged “gay party”. Numerous arrests have previously been reported.


It is not known how many individuals have been successfully prosecuted under the law. A 2012 Human Rights Watch report on transgender individuals living in Kuwait suggests that there have been very few actual prosecutions.

Statements by Public Figures


In July, Dr. Ahmad Al-Athari, Director General of Kuwait’s premier educational institute, the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET), refused to answer an MP’s question as to whether he had misused state funds by granting a scholarship to a gay student. Speaking to the press, Dr. Al-Athri stated that all citizens have the right to receive a scholarship and that there was no discrimination in that respect.

The PAAET had previously advised students to avoid gay people and report them to “the counselling centre”. Dr. Khalifa Behbehani, the Dean of Activity and Student Care stated: “Some students come from high school carrying wrong behaviours with them… Observers in the local, regional and international scenes notice that the problem is found in colleges and universities all around the world… [homosexual] behaviour has unfortunately become a source of disgust for students and teachers alike.”

In April, Head of the Committee for “negative phenomena” and MP, Hamdan Al-Azmi, invited gay and transgender individuals to talk with “specialised doctors” in order to help them find “a solution to their problem”. He was quoted as saying: “Some cross-dressers are going through physiological suffering, and maybe they can be cured if they are seen by specialists.”

In March, Hamdan Al-Azmi argued that stronger action should be taken against homosexuality: “Social institutions are required to take a stand against the so-called ‘gays’ in order to prevent the spread of cases that are against religion, creation and human nature… men who are imitating the opposite sex are required to either return back to their senses and leave the life of humiliation, or the law should be enforced firmly against them”. Reports suggest he advocated raiding the homes of gay people: “[we should] raid apartments that shelter gays and where they practice prohibited actions that cannot be accepted under any justification”.

[We should] raid apartments that shelter gays and where they practice prohibited actions that cannot be accepted under any justification.

Hamdan Al-Azmi, MP


In October, it was reported that individuals applying for a visa would have to undergo a medical examination to prove they are not gay or “third-sex”. Director of the Public Health Department, Dr. Yousuf Mendakar, told a local newspaper: “Homosexuals and ‘third-sex’ individuals can be detected through clinical tests during the routine medical examination for visa”. Whilst no explanation was given as to the “medical tests” that could be used to identify gay and transgender individuals, Dr. Mendakar did explain the process: “Expatriates undergo medical tests at local clinics, but the new procedure includes stricter measures to find out homosexuals and transgenders so that they are banned from entering Kuwait or any GCC state”.

In the same month, following criticism of the anti-gay migrant ban by Amnesty International, MP Abdul Rahman Al Jiran issued a strongly worded statement: “The decision to bar homosexuals from entering Kuwait is a sovereign decision. Amnesty International should take care of lofty and noble goals for which it was established, leave aside homosexuality and deviations and stop defending delinquents. The organisation should heed the annual rates of births outside the institution of marriage in Europe and abortions as well as the high rates of underage mothers and other moral crimes forbidden by all divine religions… I was surprised like all Kuwaitis by the interference in the affairs of an Islamic country where its people are committed to the values of Islam… I condemn the brazen requests by an organisation that introduces itself as a protector of freedoms and human rights. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should respond urgently to the so-called Amnesty International to highlight the noble Islamic principles, values and teachings in which the people of Kuwait believe and which reject the propagation of vice and debauchery in the community.”

Persecution and Discrimination


In October, the authorities banned the Indian movie, “5 Weddings”, because it featured Hijras.


The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Kuwait stated that societal discrimination and harassment against LGBT people is common. Transgender people were often rejected by their families, and no LGBT-based NGOs operated in the open.

In September, a Polish Instagram celebrity was arrested in a Kuwaiti mall for looking too feminine. He was detained by the police, humiliated and beaten before being released and deported after two weeks of detention.

Legislative News


During its second UPR cycle, Kuwait noted all recommendations relating to the criminalisation of homosexuality and the prevention of discrimination against LGBT individuals.


During its first UPR cycle, Kuwait rejected recommendations to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations.

1. Penal Code 1960, Article 193 Consensual Intercourse Between Men

“Consensual intercourse between men of full age (from the age of 21) shall be punishable with a term of imprisonment of up to seven years.” Full text.

2. Penal Code 1960, Article 198 Lewd Acts

“Whoever makes a lewd signal or act in a public place or such that one may see it or hear it from public place, or appears like the opposite sex in any way, shall be punished for a period not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding 1000 Dinar or one either of these punishments”. Full text.

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