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Rights group urges Kuwait to overturn transgender woman’s conviction

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DUBAI, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Human Rights Watch on Thursday known as on Kuwait to overturn a conviction in opposition to a transgender Kuwaiti lady sentenced this month to two years in jail for “imitating the opposite sex” on-line and to amend a legislation that enables such prosecutions.

A court docket within the Gulf Arab state on Oct. 3 additionally fined Maha al-Mutairi, 40, 1,000 dinars ($3,320), saying the she was “misusing phone communication” together with her on-line posts, the rights group mentioned.

Mutairi, who has been detained a number of instances for her transgender identification, advised Human Rights Watch that she went into hiding after the conviction however was arrested at a resort and is now being held in a males’s jail in a solitary cell designated for transgender detainees.

A spokesperson for Kuwait’s authorities didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

“Mutairi’s story is one of many horrific accounts by transgender Kuwaitis whose only crime is expressing themselves publicly,” mentioned Rasha Younes, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Kuwait should immediately release Mutairi, investigate her allegations of sexual violence in detention, and end its criminalisation and harassment of transgender people.”

Mutairi’s lawyer, Ibtissam al-Enezi, advised Human Rights Watch that the court docket used social media movies posted by Mutairi as proof for the conviction on grounds that she was sporting make-up, talking about her transgender identification, allegedly making “sexual advances” and criticizing the federal government.

She was allowed to name her lawyer and had not reported mistreatment this time, the rights group mentioned, citing Enezi.

Last 12 months, Mutairi posted a video on social media accusing authorities of sexually assaulting and beating her whereas she was in a male jail in 2019 for imitating the alternative intercourse.

She was detained and launched with out cost in June 2020 amid a wave of worldwide solidarity on-line as particulars of her case circulated amongst activists.

Kuwait in 2007 amended article 198 of the penal code, which offers with indecent acts in public locations, to additionally criminalise “imitating the opposite sex in any way”, punishable by up to one 12 months imprisonment and/or a positive of 1,000 dinars.

Gulf neighbour Oman in 2018 amended its penal code to punish a person who “publicly appears in the likeness of women in his dress or guise” with imprisonment of between one month and a 12 months, together with a positive.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Nick Macfie

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