Queer model, designer, and activist Nin Kala faced deportation from the Muscat International Airport harping upon the existing transphobic culture and anti-queer laws in Oman.
"This is not the first time something like this has happened to someone. This has happened multiple times in history, people have been deported back to their countries. So if you identify as someone from the community, do not go to these Gulf countries as they have anti-LGBTQIA+ laws," shared Nin Kala on their social media handle.
Identifying as Queer is a crime in Oman. Article 33 and 223 of the Omani Penal Code criminalises homosexuality. It is a punishable offence with up to 3 years of prison. Same-sex marriages are not recognised in the country. Neither is the existence of non-binary, queer persons identified by Oman.
Furthermore, the Omani government also censors queer issues from being voiced by their media.
On 5th September 2013, a Reuters report brought forward litigation by the Omani Government against ONA, a state news agency for running a story of homosexual persons in the Gulf nation.
Omani activists for the LGBTQIA+ cause allegedly seek protection under a social media alias to stand for the cause.
The 2018 anti-queer laws by the Omani government seeks to eradicate anyone identifying as queer from the community. Article 226 of the Omani Penal Code targets crossdressing. It legally penalises a man from appearing in a 'woman's clothing' as of 2018. The punishment ranges from anywhere between one month to one year of imprisonment.
Article 263 of the Omani Penal Code (2018), prohibits lustful acts between people of the same sex with punishment ranging from six months to three years. Article 261 of the Omani Penal Code targets the same but specifically between same-sex male lovers.
Nin Kala's Ordeal After facing Anti-Queer Laws In Oman
Narrating the harassment in a video on their social media profile, here's what Nin Kala had to say:
"24th February, Friday, around 11 pm, when I landed at Muscat airport along with my friends on a tourist visa for 10 days, while my friends cleared the immigration, I was asked by the officer to wait, because they were a little suspicious and they wanted to examine me.
So this officer, calls his other colleague and takes me to this isolated room, where it was just me and them. And he asked me to remove my shirt because they wanted to examine it. After examining me, they called another senior officer, the senior officer comes and again he tells me to remove my shirt. After removing my shirt, he comes and pinches my belly and says why my body is so smooth and hairless.
I really had no answer for this and all could say was this is how I was born and this is how I am.
They said that I am not allowed to enter their country because I don't really look what is mentioned in the passport. They took me back to the immigration department and told me to wait.
While all of this process was happening, all they did was laugh and giggle at me as if there was some entertainment going on. The entire immigration people were seeing me as if I was a criminal and nobody was ready to help me out, except very few people.
They were also two women who came asking what was happening. I tried telling them this is the scenario and they tried talking to the senior officer, but the officer denied it and he said that there is no way I could go inside the country.
They told me to book my ticket and leave the country as soon as possible and they also took my passport. I had to figure out my ticket, take my passport back and leave the country. This was a really bad experience, It was humiliating for me to be in this kind of situation because nobody was even ready to understand what I was trying to explain to them.
They were completely transphobic and homophobic. For the people like me don’t exist,"
It is 2023 and not a lot has changed in Oman since the inception of homophobic and transphobic laws. The harassment that Nin Kala faces isn't the first and won't be the last till a mindset shift of the Omani government occurs.
The opinions expressed are the author's own.