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Kuwait: The situation of homosexuals; penalties for homosexuality and whether these penalties are applied in practice

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 13 January 2003
Citation / Document Symbol KWT39861.E
Reference 4
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Kuwait: The situation of homosexuals; penalties for homosexuality and whether these penalties are applied in practice, 13 January 2003, KWT39861.E, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Article 193 of the Penal Code of Kuwait prohibits sexual intercourse between men who are over the age of 21 years (ILGA 23 Apr. 1999). Contravention of this provision can lead to a punishment of up to seven years of imprisonment (ibid.).

Sexual intercourse with a male who is under 21 years of age is punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment (ibid.; Gay Rights Info. n.d.).

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) informed the Research Directorate that approximately three years ago, homosexuality was illegal in Kuwait and nothing was known about the legality of lesbianism (10 Jan. 2003). ILGA stated that this is the most recent information it has on Kuwait (ibid.).

In June 2000, a special session on women's rights was held by the United Nations in which delegates from "conservative nations" and "western powers" participated (The Washington Times 12 June 2000). The session involved a negotiation by delegates of the terms and content of a document which was to be later adopted (ibid.). During the negotiations, delegates from Kuwait and another country stated that "they could not accept 'sexual orientation', an undefined term, as a human right" (ibid.).

According to an article published in The Village Voice, laws against homosexuality in Kuwait "are enforced with prison sentences of three to 10 years" (9 Oct. 2001). However, no reports on specific cases where such penalties were applied could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Gay Rights Info. n.d. "Homosexual Rights Around the World." [Accessed 8 Jan. 2003]

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). 10 January 2003. Correspondence received from an Office Administrator.

_____. 23 April 1999. World Legal Survey. "Kuwait." [Accessed 8 Jan. 2003]

The Village Voice. 9 October 2001. Michelangelo Signorile. "Hate Crimes." (NEXIS)

The Washington Times. 12 June 2000. George Archibald. "Feminist Proposals Routed at Conference: 'Sexual Orientation' is the Sticking Point." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Unsuccessful attempt to contact the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

World News Connection

Internet sites, including:

AHBAB (The Gay and Lesbian Arab Society)

Amnesty International


CIA World Factbook 2002

Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy

Freedom House


Gay/Lesbian Politics and Law

Gender News (The International Foundation for Gender Education)

Human Rights Watch

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (dead link)

International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies

Kuwait News Agency

Kuwait Times

The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

United States Department of State

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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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