Kuwait is a Muslim nation and thus both homosexuality and cross-dressing are treated as crimes and signs of immorality. However, as is the case with other "moderate" Muslim nations in the Middle East, there are few recorded cases of the criminal laws being enforced.

Criminal Code Edit

Several Articles in the national penal code are used to prohibit homosexuality between consenting adults in private and to restrict the public discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • Article 193 of the Penal Code punishes homosexuality between men, over the age of 21, with up to seven years imprisonment [1]. If the conduct involves persons under the age of 21, then imprisonment can be for a maximum of ten years [2]. .
  • Article 198 prohibits "public indenceny" and "imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex" with fines and or imprisonment [Human Rights Watch January 17, 2008].
  • Article 204 prohibits the public encouragement of "immoral acts" and the publication and distribution of any writing or images that are immoral.

In 1996, the Kuwaiti police arrested seven Filipino hairdressers, working in Kuwait, and jailed them for homosexuality and prostitution. They were all soon deported with the Kuwaiti government informing the Philippine Embassy that it would not tolerate the existence of gay foreign workers or their sexual conduct[3].

In 2007, legislation was enacted to ban cross-dressing.

Printing and Publication Law Edit

First enacted in 1961, the national law has several regulations that are used against LGBT themes.

  • Article 26 bans the, "publication that violates public morality or persons' dignity or personal freedom...". [4].
  • Article 37 gives the Office of Printing and Publications the power to ban the importation of publications that will harm "public morals" or the, "the sanctity of religions". [5].

In 1997, Dr Alia Shoaib was dismissed from her professorial chair in Kuwait University for suggesting that homosexuality existed in the emirate. Her comments were printed in the al-Hadaf magazine, which faced charges for obscenity. The Kuwati Information Minister said the professor's comments had "defamed the University" and that, "We know that there are gays in Kuwait, they are hidden and should remain so" [6]. That same year the famous Kuwaiti novlist, Leila Othman, aced obscenity charges for her novel titled The Departure which included stories featuring same-sex relationships.

In 2000, the Kuwaiti appeals court overturned the lowers court's criminal convictions against these two women, but upheld the heavy fines [7].

Civil Rights Edit

No civil rights legislation exists to prohibit public or private sector discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. No LGBT association or interest group is officially allowed to exist, although there is some online rumors about an underground LGBT associations with such names as "Gay Freedom" [8].

In 2003, Kuwait's Civil Bench of the Court of First Instance dismissed the case of a 25-year-old woman who wanted to change her name on official documents after undergoing a sex-change operation in Thailand [9].

Marriage & Family Edit

Kuwaiti law does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnership benefits.


In 1988, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Public Health published a report on HIV infections in Kuwait [10], especially the person's nationality, marital status and sexual orientation. In 2004 a United Nations report on HIV in Kuwait found that about six percent of known transmission cases were the result of unprotected sexual contact between men [11].

In 1992, the Kuwaiti national assembly outlawed the knowing transmission of HIV to another person. Foreign residents must prove that they do not have HIV or AIDS to enter or remain in Kuwait [12].

In 2007, a seminar titled "AIDS- The Epidemic of the Century", was held by the Kuwait Medical Society (KMS). Officially the number of Kuwaiti infected with HIV is small and thus the pandemic is often seen as a problem caused by so-called "foreign" problems; i.e. homosexuality [13].

References Edit

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