The six suspects - Al Watan Image Credit:

Dubai: Authorities in Kuwait have arrested six people during a raid on massage facilities in the upscale area of Salmiya in the capital Kuwait City.

The six admitted during questioning that they were involved in “immoral activities”, Kuwaiti daily Al Watan reported on Monday.

Several social media users called for legal action against the holders of the commercial licences for the facilities, and not just those working there.

Homosexuality is socially taboo and a legal offence in Kuwait and other Gulf countries. Lawmakers have been pushing for a crackdown on homosexuals, and have called for the adoption of tougher immigration measures against expatriate homosexuals as well as their prompt deportation.

In October, police arrested 23 cross-dressers and homosexuals after they busted a “wild party” held at a chalet in the south of the country.

Investigations revealed that the party was exclusively for cross-dressers and homosexuals who would face the charges of engaging in immoral activities.

In 2013, a proposal by an official to bar homosexual and transgender foreigners from working in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries sparked furore across continents and prompted Kuwaiti officials to deny its endorsement.

“It was a mere proposal to look into the possibility of amending the medical check-up rules for foreigners wishing to work and live in the GCC,” Khalid Al Jarallah, the foreign ministry undersecretary, said.

The situation waded into further controversy after Amnesty International said that the proposal “to introduce compulsory ‘medical tests’ and bar any migrant workers deemed to be ‘homosexual’ or transgender from entering Kuwait and other Gulf countries was outrageous and should be rejected out of hand.”

“Instead of continuing to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals, authorities in Kuwait should work to ensure that people are not harassed and abused because of who they are and repeal laws that criminalise sexual acts between consenting adults,” Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, said.

The statement was immediately rejected by lawmakers.

“The decision to bar homosexuals from entering Kuwait is a sovereign decision,” MP Abdul Rahman Al Jiran said. “Amnesty International should take care of lofty and noble goals for which it was established, leave aside homosexuality and deviations and stop defending delinquents. The organisation should heed the annual rates of births outside the institution of marriage in Europe and abortions as well as the high rates of underage mothers and other moral crimes forbidden by all divine religions.”

MP Mohammad Al Jabri said that the statement by Amnesty International was not acceptable.

“I was surprised like all Kuwaitis by the interference in the affairs of an Islamic country where its people are committed to the values of Islam,” he said in a statement. “I condemn the brazen requests by an organisation that introduces itself as a protector of freedoms and human rights. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should respond urgently to the so-called Amnesty International to highlight the noble Islamic principles, values and teachings in which the people of Kuwait believe and which reject the propagation of vice and debauchery in the community.”