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November 17, 2017

LGBT Community Under Attack in Egypt

LGBT Community Under Attack in Egypt

Since the beginning of September 2017, Egyptian authorities under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s rule have arrested dozens of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on charges of “sexual deviance,” “debauchery,” and “insulting public morals.” A unit in the security services known as the “morality police” is using online dating apps to entrap and arrest gay and bisexual men. Meanwhile, the Supreme Council of Media Regulation banned any media coverage supportive of the rights of LGBT people, and government-supported media personalities are railing against homosexuality, likening it to ISIS. The United States, as a strong supporter of Egypt, has an important role to play in speaking out against such abuses committed against the Egyptian LGBT community.

While widespread discrimination against LGBT Egyptians has long existed, ongoing persecution escalated into a witch hunt following a Cairo concert on September 22, by the Lebanese group Mashrou’ Leila, which is led by an openly gay singer. During the concert, a small group raised a rainbow flag, commonly seen as a symbol of gay pride. Following the incident, fueled in part by media reports, the government rounded up not only the people who hoisted the flag, but dozens more, at least 65 in all, turning the concert into the trigger event for a severe crackdown against the LGBT community. The police targeted individuals presumed gay, checked phones, and focused on known hangouts of LGBT Egyptians. Of the more than 65 arrested, only three were present at the concert. To date, 25 people have received jail sentences ranging between one and six years. At least five detainees were subjected to anal examinations, a humiliating act which is a form of torture. 

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