Kuwait trans woman narrowly escapes arrest at beauty salon

A Kuwait beauty salon refused to treat a woman and her trans friend, when they protested the police arrested the woman while the trans narrowly escaped

Kuwait trans woman narrowly escapes arrest at beauty salon
06 November 2012

A transgender woman narrowly escaped arrest when a beauty salon owner reporter her and a female friend to the police.

A transgender woman and her female friend visited a beauty salon in Riggae, Kuwait City for a beauty treatment on Saturday (3 Novemeber) but the owner refused to attend them.

The transgender woman was described by the local press as “pretty boy” a derogatory euphemism to a male to female transgender woman.

However the owner refused to apply make-up on the transgender woman and both were told to leave the premises.

The friend of the transgender woman allegedly ‘attacked’ the owner in protest. The police arrived and arrested her but the transgender woman escaped.

Police say they are launching an investigation.

This is the latest incident in Kuwait’s year old morality crackdown that also target LGBT people.

Last week GSN broke a report that six transgender women have been arrested only since 15 October.

A transgender activist in Kuwait told Gay Star News: ‘We are suffering daily abuse here in Kuwait.

‘The continual use of the law against “imitating the opposite sex” is abuse in the name of morality.

‘It encourages hatred and discrimination, its easy for anyone to pick up the phone and simply report an transgender person.

‘Police acts accordingly and throw them into prison.

‘This is one of many incidents, and I know there are at least 11 transgender people still held under custody, some of them for nearly a month.’

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 €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.

Kuwait has been experiencing political turmoil, when earlier this 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; the issue of sexuality is used as a weapon by the opposition to portray the ruling family and its liberal allies as corrupt and morally defunct and dependent on an immoral West.

The authorities, in an attempt to portray themselves as morally just and defend against the criticism of the opposition have been actively pursuing ‘morality’ campaigns throughout this year which also target lesbian, gay and transgender people.

Commenting on the news, Omar Kuddus, a gay Muslim LGBT rights advocate based in the UK said: ‘The continual "morality" campaigns against LGBT people by Kuwait’s authorities is unacceptable and a violation of basic human rights.

‘The law against “imitating the opposite sex” is continuously used to harass Kuwait’s transsexual and transgender citizens, it is open to abuse and in effect makes their lives intolerable due as they face constant threat of imprisonment and false allegations.

‘The Kuwaiti trans community are living in no better conditions and situations than the Jews, gays and gypsies were in Nazi Germany.

‘This has to change and international pressure needs to be applied to make the Kuwaiti government respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all of its citizens.’

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