Saudi activist speaks on LGBTQ status in Kuwait

i24NEWS

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Journalist and rights activist Wajeeh Lion (L) speaks with i24NEWS about the LGBTQ community in the Arab world, in a screengrab taken on February 19, 2022.
i24NEWSJournalist and rights activist Wajeeh Lion (L) speaks with i24NEWS about the LGBTQ community in the Arab world, in a screengrab taken on February 19, 2022.

'Kuwait and the Arab Gulf have been violating the LGBTQ community's rights for many years'

Days after Kuwait’s constitutional court struck down a law that criminalizes “imitation of the opposite sex” - considered a breakthrough for the regional transgender community - journalist and international rights activist Wajeeh Lion spoke with i24NEWS about the implications such a move has on the LGBTQ community in the Arab world.

“It might be a very small step in the right direction. Kuwait and the Arab Gulf have been violating the LGBTQ community's rights for many years,” Lion said.

The decriminalization is being widely touted as a breakthrough for a country where homosexual relations are still criminalized with up to seven years in prison.

“We hope that these decriminalizations move to legalization and allow the transgender community to have a better life in Kuwait,” Lion continued. 

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However, the activist lacked optimism about the long-term effects of the Kuwaiti decision.

“I don't think this law is going to take any effect on the Kuwaiti lifestyle, especially since it seems very cosmetic and not something serious of legal changes that would affect the lives of transgender people in Kuwait.”

There are 13 countries in the world where homosexuality is still punishable by death, including Saudi Arabia.

Lion, who says he is the first openly gay man from Saudi Arabia, discussed with i24NEWS growing up in the kingdom before moving to the United States.

“I was sexually harassed and assaulted by people who taught me the Quran. It was a very confusing environment to grow up in, a very sheltering environment,” he explained.

“I had so much hatred to myself… because of being gay.”

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