Gulf countries propose ‘mandatory examination to determine gender’ for migrant workers

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The Health Ministry of Kuwait has proposed that genetic tests for immigrant workers in countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, be tightened to prevent transgender migrants from entering the job market there.

This news follows an announcement earlier this week that Doctors in Kuwait and other GCC countries may subject men entering the county to screening tests in order to attempt to “detect”, and ban gay people from entering.

Tawfiq Khojah, director-general of the Executive Office at the GCC Health Council, said, “The health checklist for migrant workers now contains a mandatory examination to determine gender.”

He went on to say that the restrictions were intended to preserve Islamic principles. The proposal for the change will be made before the Central Committee for foreign workers on 11 November he told Arab News.

“Undergoing the test will become mandatory for an estimated 289 health centers 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.

Director of the Public Health Department in Kuwait, Youssef Mendkar, confirmed that the proposals aim to prevent transgender migrants from working in GCC countries.

The test aims to determine the gender of the person at birth, as well as through the worker’s medical history.

LGBT campaigner, Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said: “This proposal is unjust discrimination against transgender people. Excluding expat workers because of their gender identity is immoral and doesn’t make economic sense. 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. They won’t want to subject their employees to the humiliation of these intrusive gender tests.

“FIFA says it opposes all discrimination. Yet the proposals to test and ban foreign trans employees from the Gulf Cooperation Countries will include Qatar and will penalise World Cup construction and hospitality staff from overseas who are trans.

“If these plans get the go ahead, FIFA should cancel the 2022 World Cup contract on the grounds that Qatar has violated FIFA’s non-discrimination values. It should find a new host city for the 2022 tournament. Discrimination against trans people is incompatible with FIFA’s commitment to equality for all.”

It is illegal to be gay in all of the GCC member countries. These include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Article 193 of the Penal Code in Kuwait punishes homosexuality between men, over the age of 21, with up to seven years imprisonment. If the conduct involves persons under the age of 21, then imprisonment can be for a maximum of ten years.