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Kuwait repeals law criminalizing ‘impersonation of the opposite sex’

Kuwait’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday overturned a law criminalizing ‘impersonation of the opposite sex’. Amnesty International said this was a breakthrough for transgender rights in the region.

Kuwaiti lawyer Ali al-Aryan, who filed a lawsuit two years ago to overturn Article 198 of the penal code, confirmed that the law had been violated and said it violates personal freedoms enshrined in the constitution.

“The law was overly vague and broad, and we have based our defense on the existence of medical and constitutional foundations, as there are both hormonal and psychological contributions,” he told AFP.

Amnesty welcomed the court’s decision, saying it marked a “major breakthrough” for transgender rights in the region.

“Article 198 was highly discriminatory, overly vague and should never have been enacted into law in the first place,” Middle East and North Africa deputy director Lynn Maalouf said in a statement.

“They must also immediately end arbitrary arrests of transgender people and drop all charges and convictions brought against them under this transphobic law.”

She also called for the release of those “wrongly imprisoned”, including Maha al-Mutairi, who was sentenced last year to two years in prison on charges including being transgender.

Maha al-Mutairi, 40, had been arrested several times before on the same grounds, her lawyer, Ibtissam al-Enezi, told AFP at the time, but added that the latest conviction — including “misuse of telephone communications” — had been by far ” the heaviest”.

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