A U.S. Embassy tweet of a message by President Joe Biden in support of Pride Month has drawn a face-to-face diplomatic protest from Kuwait and sparked a rare Twitter fight between the two close allies.
On Friday, U.S. diplomats were doubling down with rainbow flag postings and statements in support of LGBTQ rights on social media. The messages appeared in response to the Kuwaiti government’s official objection the day before to what Kuwait’s state news agency called the “pro-gay rights post” of the U.S. Embassy there.
Kuwaiti law punishes consensual same-sex relations between men by up to seven years in prison, according to Human Rights Watch. A court ruling this year threw out another law that made “imitating the opposite sex” a crime punishable by prison.
Some conservative Kuwaitis spoke out in support of their government’s action. The U.S. Embassy was “attempting to impose modes of abnormal behavior rejected by the Muslim Kuwaiti society,” tweeted one, Hamad al Matar.
In the region, the US Embassies in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also posted messages in support of Pride Month. The holiest sites in Islam, Medina and Mecca, are located in Saudi Arabia.
In February, though, Kuwait’s Supreme Court reversed a ban on imitating the opposite gender, a move hailed by Amnesty International as a breakthrough for transgender rights in the Gulf state.
Asked for comment, the State Department said in a statement Friday, “The United States proudly advances efforts around the globe to protect all individuals.”