Kuwait abolishes the law criminalising transgenders.
Islam News – Kuwait’s constitutional court has struck down a contentious law long used to criminalize transgenders .
After years of campaigning by human rights groups, the court planned that the law policing people who dress and behave like the opposite sex was “inconsistent with the constitution’s keenness to ensure and preserve personal freedom” because the law’s terms were far too ambiguous. The article did not did not define how to determine the “opposite sex,” allowing for “miscalculation” in criminalization, the court said.
The law sets the maximum penalty for cross-dressing at one-year in prison or a fine of $3,300.
The decision was hailed as a liberal counterweight to the conservative politics in Kuwait, a Gulf Arab sheikhdom where homosexual relations are criminalized with up to seven years in prison.
Amnesty International welcomed the overthrowing of the penal code’s Article 198 as “a major breakthrough” for the rights of transgender people in the region.
Similar laws criminalize transgender expression across the conservative Arabian Peninsula. Throughout the Arab world, gay, lesbian and transgender people face legal and social discrimination and other formidable obstacles to living their lives openly.
Transgender woman Maha al-Mutairi, for instance, was sentenced last October to two years in prison for “imitating the opposite sex online,” Human Rights Watch has reported. She remains in detention at Kuwait’s Central Prison for men.
On Thursday, conservative Islamist lawmakers in Kuwait blasted the court ruling as shameful and vowed to fight it.