A general view of Kuwait City (Reuters)
Kuwaiti MPs have hit out Amnesty International for criticising the Gulf Kingdom's proposed 'gay test' for immigrant workers .
The lawmakers accused the human rights group of meddling in domestic affairs of a sovereign Islamic state and called on the foreign ministry to respond to the watchdog's accusations.
Amnesty said the proposal to introduce compulsory medical tests and bar migrant workers deemed to be "homosexual" or transgender was "outrageous and should be rejected out of hand".
"Instead of continuing to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals, authorities in Kuwait should work to ensure that people are not harassed and abused because of who they are and repeal laws that criminalize sexual acts between consenting adults," said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
Amnesty's reaction was triggered by an announcement by Yousouf Mindkar, director of public health at the Kuwaiti health ministry. "Health centres conduct the routine medical check to assess the health of the expatriates when they come into the GCC countries," he told local daily Al Rai. "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."
However, a statement by Tawfiq Khojah, director-general of the Executive Office at the GCC Health Council, seemed to narrow the proposed tests to transgender people only.
"The health checklist for migrant workers now contains a mandatory examination to determine gender," he said,
"Undergoing the test will become mandatory for an estimated 289 health centres across the GCC if the Health Council approves the proposal of tighter controls on gender tests for migrant workers. More than 2 million expatriate workers underwent the new gender tests in 2012," he said.
Kuwaiti MP Abdul Rahman Al Jiran defended the decision to bar transgender from entering Kuwait saying that it "is a sovereign decision".
"Amnesty International should take care of lofty and noble goals for which it was established, leave aside homosexuality and deviations and stop defending delinquents," he told Al Rai newspaper, according to Gulf News.
MP Mohammed Al Jibri said: "I was surprised like all Kuwaitis by the interference in the affairs of an Islamic country where its people are committed to the values of Islam.
"I condemn the brazen requests by an organisation that introduces itself as a protector of freedoms and human rights," he said. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should respond urgently to the so-called Amnesty International to highlight the noble Islamic principles, values and teachings in which the people of Kuwait believe and which reject the propagation of vice and debauchery in the community."
London based LGBT campaigner, Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, told IBTimes UK that Kuwait's proposed tests "is unjust discrimination against transgender people".
"Excluding expat workers because of their gender identity is immoral and doesn't make economic sense," he continued. "People should be employed solely on the basis of their personal integrity and their ability to do the job. Trans people make perfectly good, reliable employees."
"Banning trans persons from entering the country may deter some foreign investors and companies with trans staff," he said. "They won't want to subject their employees to the humiliation of these intrusive gender tests."
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