Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Kuwait to end its suppression of the LGBTQ community in a report published on Thursday, following the conviction and imprisonment of Maha-al-Mutairi, a transgender woman.
She was charged with allegedly violating telecommunication laws by “imitating the opposite sex” online. These claims were brought under Article 70 of the Communication and Information technology law and Article 198 of the Penal code.
On October 3, the court sentenced her to two years imprisonment and a fine of 1,000 Kuwait dinars. She was arrested on October 11 and is currently detained at a men’s prison in a solitary confinement cell that is designated for transgender people.
Al-Mutairi reported to HRW that this was her sixth arrest that targeted her gender identity. In 2020 alone she was charged four times with “imitating women.”
While no abuses in custody have thus been reported as her lawyer says, al-Mutairi told HRW about previous instances of violence and abuse she has faced while incarcerated in a men’s facility.
HRW has condemned the acts, citing their contravention of the freedom of expression, privacy, and non-discrimination, all of which are guaranteed under the Kuwait constitution and international law. Rasha Younes, an LGBTQ researcher stated:
The Kuwaiti government’s monitoring, repeated arrests, and imprisonment of Maha al-Mutairi for her trans identity is a blatant violation of her basic rights…Kuwaiti authorities should immediately reverse her conviction and allow her to live safely as a woman.