215 gay men and lesbians were recently arrested in Kuwait after an intense investigation of "Internet cafes and suspicious places" across the country, The Kuwaiti Times reported early Tuesday morning. The newspaper, along with the U.S.-based Arab Times, cited another Kuwaiti Arab-language newspaper, Al-Anba, which reported the arrests earlier this week. Sydney journalist Dan Nolan captured the bombastic headline chosen by The Kuwaiti Times to convey the news:
Hard to believe but this is a real headline from the Kuwait Times this week... twitter.com/Dan_Nolan9/sta…— Dan Nolan (@Dan_Nolan9) May 14, 2013
And the sparse story accompanying it:
and this is the story that goes with it twitter.com/Dan_Nolan9/sta…— Dan Nolan (@Dan_Nolan9) May 14, 2013
With over two hundred people arrested, the raid appears to be largest in Kuwait in quite some time. A similar episode took place in May 2012, when 149 people identified by police as gay or transgender were arrested under suspicion of prostitution.
While the details so far remain thin, the arrests are far from unprecedented in Kuwait. The country's laws make homosexuality punishable with detention, and Kuwaiti police have a long history of investigating and jailing people thought to be gay. In early May Kuwaiti officials detained 10 gay teenagers for practicing "Satantic rituals," and in April police arrested dozens of transgender Kuwaiti citizens.