Monique Coverson and her partner Larissa (Photo credit: Free Monique and Larissa Campaign)

Monique Coverson and her partner, Larissa (Photo credit: Free Monique and Larissa campaign)

Monique Coverson served in the U.S. Army for seven years, as did her partner, Larissa, as openly lesbian women. After their military service was complete the couple were able to get jobs as military contractors and returned to the Middle East to work in Kuwait. Life seemed to be going well for the pair until Kuwaiti police kicked in their door in May 2015 and found an ounce of a suspicious substance. The women were arrested on drug possession charges and were initially incarcerated for eight months in a Kuwaiti jail while the substance was tested and they awaited trial. It turned out the two women were using  K2, a synthetic form of marijuana — and according to their lawyer, they would be fine.

However, when trial time arrived the 1 ounce of K2 was deemed to be 1 pound of hashish by the government. On Jan. 16, 2016, both women were sentenced to 25 years in jail for illegal drug possession. Monique Coverson’s family believes the real reason they were sentenced to jail was because they are lesbians. Kuwait is a strict Islamic country and homosexuality is punished under a “debauchery law.” Men caught having sex with men can be sentenced to as much as six years in prison and hefty fines. There are no protections for the civil rights of the Kuwaiti LGBT community.  Monique’s mother, Jasmine Coverson, has started a petition to bring attention to her daughter’s plight and to ask the Obama administration to intercede.

“My daughter Monique earned a stellar record for her seven years as a soldier in the United States Army, stationed in Kuwait. Now, she and her partner wallow in a Kuwaiti prison, facing 25 years on baseless charges. After active duty, Monique and her partner, Larissa, later returned to Kuwait to work as military contractors. On the morning of May 8, 2015, their house was raided and police confiscated one ounce of a “tobacco-like” substance. It was sent to a lab in Germany for analysis, and it was determined to be a substance that is completely legal in Kuwait. Yet, Kuwaiti officials held them in prison anyway. After 8 months of uncharged incarceration, the one ounce of legal substance magically turned into one pound of marijuana, and on January 12, 2016, Monique and Larissa were sentenced to 20-25 years  in prison. I am begging the US Government to do what it can to get my daughter and her partner out of jail and back to the States. They have clearly been targeted by the Kuwaiti government for their lifestyle, and could spend half their lives in prison for it. This whole ordeal is a nightmare. One minute, I was expecting her for Mother’s Day, and the next, I was told she was in prison. Everything I have learned has been through her friends and her lawyer, who has only called to demand more money — money for services he hasn’t rendered. Right now, I would do anything just to hear her voice. To this day, I cannot understand how the US government has allowed them to remain in prison. They were not in possession of an illegal substance, yet their freedom and belongings have been taken away from them. They are being held captive in a foreign land for a crime they did not commit, with no help in sight. I need all of you who read this to help me send a message to the US Government, and ask them to do what is right and get Monique and Larissa out of jail and bring them home. This injustice cannot stand. Please sign my petition.”

The petition is addressed to President Obama, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Douglas A. Silliman. So far the petition has 87,500 supporters.

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.

  • Beelzebub

    Shouldn’t have gone to a SandN*GGER country.

    • JootJoint

      Shut up you damn white nigger bitch!

  • guest

    Wow this is crazy. The US government has to do something to help them.

    • Chuck

      I agree.

  • understandingoverignorance

    SandN*GGER government this is crazy!!

    • Jeffrey A Dean Jr

      Wow! No need to be racist while supporting LGBT rights.

      • understandingoverignorance

        Well the term san ni**er is a term of endearment when referencing that part of the world…They hate it even more than being called an Islamic terrorist.

        • Jeffrey A Dean Jr

          What?! What is wrong with you?? I’m married to a man from “that part of the world” (it’s called the Middle East), and I can assure you that your repulsive term is in no way considered endearing. It’s offensive and racist.

          • understandingoverignorance

            Being sarcastic isn’t en-vogue I see. I took the entire statement from a copy and paste with other statements made. Now the word is offensive even when sand is added and I do apologize since you’ve not ready any of my past comments. I totally understand what took place in that orthodox Middle Eastern country with those two women they were jailed for being openly gay…call that justice nope its Sand ni**ger justice which say a woman can’t drive a car because it can cause her not to be able to reproduce. And a place where a man like my self can rape you and your Middle Eastern husband can side with me so we can stoically stone you to death as if we have no sin. So your retort was well lame since these Sand turds imprisoned two women for being well American free and able to chose what sexual partner they prefer.

  • mrhowell2002

    When you play those games in the Middle East they could give two craps … Why the hell would openly gay people goto a country that is intolerant… #stupid

    • JMiller

      I agree it might not have been the best option to take a job in Kuwait given their situation but as American citizens they still deserve the full backing of the US Government (which apparently didn’t happen). Support from our government is especially important when someone is working in support of the US military and when the foreign state is trumping up the charges as appears to be the case here. I just don’t understand why we allow other countries to treat our people like this for such minor offences, proven or not.

      • Redkarnelian

        It was a terrible decision to live and work in Kuwait as a lesbian couple. Persecution should have been expected. I have met many people over the years (and have a few friends) who grew up in middle eastern countries living in company compounds with US/Europe/Canadian companies and raids looking for contraband are common for foreigners. The authorities will be in your house at some point. They will know your business. This petition has one line in it “To this day, I cannot understand how the US government has allowed them to remain in prison.”. That’s because the US government doesn’t have the authority, or the power by the way, to allow or disallow actions of a sovereign state concerning the laws existing, or their enforcement. Taking a job in a middle eastern country is always going to come with some risks. Since Kuwait hasn’t charged them under their Debauchery law (which would apply to homosexuals and have a 6 year sentence as I understand it, which would be very difficult for the couple to prove was falsely prosecuted), Kuwait could very easily charge them as such. They cannot claim that they are being charged because they are gay. The claim that they weren’t using an illegal substance may or may not be true. Even so, it is conceivable and actually foreseeable prior to moving there that the Kuwaiti government may find other reasons to persecute the couple. I find it astounding that it wasn’t expected they these two or their families. If they were actually using an illegal substance, they were incredibly, absolutely foolish. Even something close to it that could be misinterpreted is risky. The source of this problem is an attitude of entitlement. That attitude led two gay people to move to live and work in Kuwait, expecting to be safe under US laws and freedoms, which do not apply in Kuwait, or any other nation that is not the US or US Territories. However, I do hope that the federal government intervenes and does their best to help them. Kuwait’s laws are barbaric and extremely punitive. They may have been misguided and foolhardy, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support or lobby for them. I’m sure their names have already been added to the lists of many more Westerners in middle eastern prisons hoping for intervention and clemency. I hope this story serves as good warning to others like them considering living in, or even visiting, a middle eastern/north African et al country.

        • Kimon Matara

          Thoughtful comment.

    • Mychaeltodd Robinson

      I agree, stay away from countries that would put your ass in jail over your open lifestyle!

    • tom

      That is my thought exactly. You have to abide by the host country’s rules. I woulf never take a job in that part of the world if i was a member of the lgbt community.

  • grannygood

    why would a lesbian couple choose to move and work in a country they know is not just homophobic but actually has laws against it and why would they use a “synthetic” drug that is identical to marijuana in a country with with insanely harsh drug laws?
    Not saying that Kuwait’s laws are right but no one forced these women to move there. Couldn’t find a single article on this site about all the Kuwaitis who are arrested and imprisoned for being gay and minor drug use, just one about Americans making bad choices and then expecting to not get the same consequences as the natives of the country do.

    • disqus_fmoyojThJW

      There are not as many opportunities for ex military POC as you might expect.

  • Chris

    You mention the petition, but don’t bother to provide a link to it… seriously…??

  • Brandon Antonio

    Where the f— is the link to sign the petition? Yall can link all this other s— except for the actual petiton!!!????

    • StellasKid

      Seriously, have to agree with Chris and Brandon here. Why did you not link to the petition??

  • Cummbottom

    Unfortunate oppressive tribalism of ancient middle east lease incarcerated caught Saudia Arabia death. Sadly economic trade is “paramount” error to LGBTQ we must have privy of civil laws.

  • Guest
  • haramharry

    they’re veterans, not soldiers. but hope they get out of there asap

  • Kelly Jackson

    What did these two morons think was going to happen when they started trafficking drugs in an Islamic country?