Egypt Banning LGBT Foreigners?
Last week an Egyptian court issued a decision that escalates government-sanctioned homophobia and may set a disturbing precedent. The court upheld a ban against a Libyan man from re-entering the country who was deported in 2008 after being charged for “homosexual practices.” Egyptian law allows for the deportation of foreigners for "offending public morality." This court decision may give authorities more incentive to target, deport, or bar LGBT people from entering the country.
Egypt’s crackdown on its own LGBT citizens continues unabated. Last month seven people the police deemed “transsexuals” were arrested at a nightclub in Cairo and charged with debauchery. Last year eight men were convicted of the same offense simply for appearing in what was believed to be a “gay wedding video” posted to YouTube. And while the 26 men of the infamous “bathhouse case” were eventually acquitted, they continue to face harassment and stigma. One attempted suicide by lighting himself on fire.
Some activists say that the situation for LGBT people is worse now than it was under dictator Hosni Mubarak. The current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, may be using homophobia and his suppression of the LGBT community as a distraction from Egypt’s floundering economy and the government’s pervasive human rights abuses.
Egypt isn’t the only country to ban LGBT people from entering—Belize and Trinidad and Tobago have similar laws on the books that are currently being challenged in a regional court. The U.S. State Department recently appointed a special envoy for LGBT human rights, Randy Berry. The position was sorely needed, and Berry will have his work cut out for him. Especially if Egypt ratchets up its already pervasive homophobia by banning LGBT foreigners.