Two transgender women were arrested this weekend in Kuwait.
The two are the latest to be arrested in a continuous ‘morality’ campaign that had in just over two months imprisoned 13 transgender women.
On Saturday (10 November) police officers arrested a transgender woman and her female friend after they allegedly took part in a brawl and assaulted a ‘famous family’ at their home in Salmiya, Kuwait City.
Al-Rai learned from that the Kuwaiti ministry of interior received a complaint about women having a brawl, to which it responded by sending a police patrol.
When the police arrived and checked the id-cards of the women, they were ‘surprised’ to find that one of them was a transgender woman who together with her female friend allegedly ‘assaulted’ another woman, for hurling at them derogatory words.
The police arrested the two women, and according to security sources, the transgender woman will be charged with ‘imitating the opposite sex’
Both women were transferred for investigation and prosecution by the CID.
On Friday (9 November), police officers tried to diffuse an argument between two drivers who caused a traffic jam as they were ill parked in front of a restaurant in Salmiya, Kuwait city.
One of the drivers managed to escape, while the other, a transgender woman, was detained by the police after they discovered that she was registered in her identity card as a man, reported The Arab Times.
She was arrested and referred to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) so legal action could be brought against her.
Six transgender woman have been arrested last month, while one narrowly escaped arrest last week.
This brings the total known number of transgender women being held in prison awaiting trial to thirteen.
The arrests of the transgender women is part of an on-going ‘morality’ campaign which also target lesbian, gay and transgender people.
The situation for LGBT people, and in particular transgender people has been progressively deteriorating since 2007, with this year in particular witnessing mass arrests.
On 10 December 2007, the Kuwaiti parliament passed a bill proposed by Islamic MPs that amended article 198 of penal code so that anyone ‘imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex’ could be jailed for up to a year or fined up to 1,000 dinars ($3,500 â‚¬2,800).
This law is causing substantial persecution and misery to transgender people in Kuwait which was slammed in a Human Rights Watch report published on 15 January this year criticizing arrests, torture and abuse of transgender people in the country.
A transgender activist in Kuwait told Gay Star News: ‘Our constitution is supposed to guarantee freedom of expression, being as well as human dignity.
‘Yet the abuse transgender people suffer here, our arrests for allegedly infringing the law on ‘imitating the opposite sex’ is a paradox.
‘This law is unconstitutional because it allows for the police or anyone to violate personal rights and freedom guaranteed to us by the constitution’.
Kuwait has been experiencing political turmoil, when last month the Emir disbanded the parliament which was dominated by the Islamic Popular Action Bloc, as well as ordering the arrest of some its leaders.
The Emir announced new elections will take place on 1 December under a new electoral rules which are widely criticized and protested against by the Islamists opposition.
In the fight between the government controlled by the royal al-Sabah family and the Islamists opposition, morality and often LGBT people are used as scapegoats by both parties.
Commenting on the news, Omar Kuddus, a gay Muslim LGBT rights advocate based in the UK said: ‘How many more arrests of transgender people does the international community need to in order to put pressure on Kuwait to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
‘The existence and enforcement of the law against “imitating the opposite sex” is abusive to such an extreme that it makes it impossible to live in Kuwait as a transgender person.
‘This barbaric act of violence must stop’.