Members of the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC, a six-nation economic block in the Persian Gulf) say they will begin testing visitors and immigrants to weed out gays and lesbians.
Yousouf Mindkar, director of public health for the health ministry of Kuwait, told Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai “We will take stricter measures to detect gays, who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any GCC member states.”
All GCC countries have laws against homosexuality. In Kuwait, gay men may be sentenced to up to ten years in prison if under the age of 21 or up to six years if over (though relations between women are legal). Qatar has similar penalties. In Oman it’s three years. Bahrain did away with sodomy laws in the 70s but there have been mass arrests and deportation attempts anyway, and any form of transgenderism is outlawed. In the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the death penalty may be applied.
Furthermore, all GCC countries are authoritarian states with few if any protections on human rights or representative government: Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE maintain complete monarchies, while Bahrain and Qatar have monarchies somewhat beholden to constitutional limits. Only Kuwait practices some form of democracy, although Americans would probably not recognize it as such.
Most of these countries experienced Arab Spring demonstrations in the last three years, demanding democracy and greater protections for human rights, although in none of them does the majority of the public support greater rights and protections for LGBT people.
No word yet on what the test will entail, as Mindkar said they are still in the process of developing it. Maybe someone should tell them there’s an app for that already?