Kuwait summoned a top U.S. diplomat on Thursday over tweets from the American embassy expressing support for LGBT rights, the country’s foreign ministry said.
In a tweet Thursday morning, the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait celebrated the start of Pride Month, sharing a message from President Joe Biden in support of LGBT rights.
“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” the tweet read, quoting Biden.
The president, the embassy said, “is a champion for the human rights of #LGBTQI persons.”
In the hours after the post went up, Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the sentiments shared in the tweet, saying it had summoned U.S. Charges d’Affaires James Holtsnider and given him a memorandum disavowing the post.
The memorandum stressed “the need for the embassy to respect the laws and regulations in force in the State of Kuwait and the obligation not to publish such tweets,” the foreign ministry said, pointing to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, which provides a framework for diplomatic relations between states.
In Kuwait, same-sex sexual activity between men is criminalized, with sentences including a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment, according to Human Dignity Trust, a non-profit organization based in London, England.
Up until this year, it was also a criminal offense to be a trans person in Kuwait. A court overturned the law as unconstitutional in February.
People within the LGBT community, Human Dignity Trust says, “are regularly subjected to discrimination and violence” in Kuwait.
Kuwait’s government was not alone in criticizing the U.S. embassy’s tweet, with some social media users also condemning the message, including Kuwaiti MP Osama Al-Shaheen, who condemned the statement in a tweet.
Others from around the world expressed support for the embassy’s message, with Alex Sobel, a British MP with the Labour Party, writing in a tweet: “The response from the Kuwaiti Government is unacceptable.”
“Human Rights are universal rights. Solidarity to all at the Embassy,” Sobel wrote.
The State Department did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment from NBC News.
Lawahez Jabari contributed.