Kuwait: Gulf states plan to study a project which will identify homosexuals and transgender individuals through a 'clinical test' which will be added to the list of medical tests one has to undergo to obtain a visa. If individuals are revealed to be homosexual or transgender, they will be denied entry into the country, a local daily reported yesterday, quoting a senior official in Kuwait's Ministry of Health.

"Homosexuals and 'third-sex' individuals can be detected through clinical tests during the routine medical examination for visa", Public Health Department Director Dr Yousuf Mendakar said. 'Third-sex' is a common term used in Gulf states to refer to transsexuals or people with gender identity disorder. The senior official added that an individual who is identified as homosexual will have 'unfit' stamped on his medical report; a term often used for people who fail medical tests which will automatically disqualify their visa application.

Dr Mendakar's statements did not specify the test or the people targeted in the new project. It was also unclear whether this excluded cross-dressers or included all homosexuals in general. He also did not explain how medical examiners intend to determine a visitor's sexual orientation. "Expatriates undergo medical tests at local clinics, but the new procedure includes stricter measures to find out homosexuals and transgenders so that they are banned from entering Kuwait or any GCC state", he added.

Dr Mendakar could not be reached immediately for further clarification. The new proposal will be discussed during a 'Central Committee for Expatriate Labor Forces Program in the GCC' meeting set to take place on November 11 in Oman, said Dr Mendakar. The meeting is expected to focus on regulations' adjustments and the Kuwaiti official said that his proposal will be included in the list of amendments.

Despite being distinguished by a Constitution that guarantees basic human rights, Kuwait's laws - same as those found in Saudi, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Oman - ban homosexuality and cross-gender acts. Same-sex relationships, cross-dressing or other homosexual acts can lead to a jail sentence. There have been several incidents in the past where homosexuals in Kuwait have complained of harassment from police and inappropriate arrests, apart from being stigmatized by society.