Persian Gulf countries have a message for gay expats: Don’t come here.
According to a senior official in Kuwait, clinical screenings in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries may soon be used to identify homosexuals with the intention of keeping them from entering the region. In an interview with the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al Rai, Yousuf Mindkar, the country’s director of public health, said officials are taking stricter measures to “detect gays.”
“Health centers conduct the routine medical check to assess the health of the expatriates when they come into the GCC countries,” Mindkar said, according to a translation by RT. “However, we will take stricter measures that will help us detect gays, who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states.”
The GCC member states are Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Kuwait. Homosexual acts are illegal in Kuwait and the other GCC countries, punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years if they involve a person under 21.
In response to Mindkar’s statement, at least one veteran LBGT activist is calling for a boycott of the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament, which will take place in Qatar. Peter Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation in Britain, told IBTimes U.K. on Tuesday that “allowing [the tournament] to go ahead in these circumstances would involve FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) colluding with homophobic discrimination.”
Homosexuality is illegal in at least 76 countries, most of them in Africa and the Middle East. The Internet may be slowly raising awareness about the issue, however. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s most recent report on state-sponsored homophobia, online activism is spreading among closeted gays in the Gulf region.
“Many LGBTIQ individuals have started blogs to speak out and to share their experiences and daily lives,” the report’s authors wrote. “Forced to ‘pass for straight’ in public and only able to be gay online, they have to lead double lives. Some have managed to organize themselves into groups such as Abu Nawas (Algeria), Bedayaa (Egypt/Sudan) and Arab Gay Pride, which unites many bloggers across the MENA [Middle East North Africa] region.”
Download the full report here.