Locked Up for Being Gay? | ADVOCATE, JUNE 2016

“It was Mother’s Day last year, and I was expecting my daughter to come home. But instead I found out she was in a jail cell in Kuwait,” recalls Michelle Jackson. “In jail for what?”

On the morning of May 8, 2015, Kuwaiti police kicked in the door of American military contractors Monique Coverson and Larissa Joseph’s apartment and confiscated one ounce of a “tobacco-like substance.”

The lesbian couple were sent to the Central Prison in Sulaibiya, Kuwait, for eight months while the substance was sent to Germany for analysis. Upon testing, lab results concluded it to be synthetic marijuana (also known as “K2” or “spice”) — a legal substance in Kuwait.

As Coverson and Joseph sat in a Kuwaiti jail for eight months, the charges began to escalate. By the time they were tried in January, the couple were charged with drug trafficking — the one ounce of K2 had somehow become a pound of hashish, despite the two substances looking nothing alike. Coverson and Joseph were sentenced to 20 to 25 years on drug-trafficking charges.

“I spoke with Monique the day they were sentenced,” remembers Jackson. “She told me, ‘Mom, they planted this on us. We didn’t have anything like that. I really don’t know what’s going on. You’ve got to get us out of here.’ To hear her voice and that sound, as a parent, it was devastating. I told God, ‘As long as I have breath, I will continue to fight for my daughter.’ That’s when I started putting everything into place. I was like,

What’s my move? Where do I go from here?



Coverson Small