The oil rich emirate of Kuwait is adopting a more tolerant approach towards same-sex attracted students in the country’s education system, with the Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr Bader Al-Essa telling the Al-Rai news agency that no students have been dismissed over their sexual orientation during his time in the job.
Al-Essa said he had no intention to disrupt a student’s education over their homosexuality by expulsion and that any school that did so would feel the weight of his office.
The Minister said any student expelled over their sexual orientation would be ‘return[ed] by the power of law.’
Al-Essa went as far as saying that a law should be passed to protect such students from dismissal.
‘We need a legislation in order to limit this phenomena,’ he told Al-Rai.
However Al-Essa said it was possible that some gay students had been expelled or disciplined over their sexual orientation without that news reaching his Ministry.
‘Some cases found in schools are handled discreetly by social and psychiatric workers in various educational areas where parents are sometimes called to meetings even at afternoon periods,’ Al-Essa said.
Kuwaiti law punishes ‘debauchery,’ usually interpreted to mean homosexuality by the judiciary, with up to six years in prison and ‘imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex’ is punished with fines or up to a year’s prison time.
There are no public advocacy groups in Kuwait pushing for the rights of LGBTI people though anonymous activist networks do exist.
One such group applied for formal approval by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in 2007 but it declined to acknowledge the request.