HRC Sounds the Alarm on Arrests, Renewed Crackdown on LGBTQ People in Egypt

by HRC Staff

HRC is alarmed about recent human rights abuses against LGBTQ people in Egypt.

Post submitted by Jay Gilliam, Senior Global Programs Officer.

HRC is alarmed about recent human rights abuses against LGBTQ people in Egypt. On September 22, at least six men were arrested for “promoting sexual deviancy” after waving a pride flag at a concert in Cairo. These arrests have led to a crackdown on the community, with LGBTQ people fleeing the capital of Cairo and hiding in fear.

HRC joins Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a coalition of human rights groups in calling on Egyptian authorities and the media to respect the human rights and freedom of expression of their LGBTQ citizens.

Amnesty International reports that Egypt will subject the six men to anal examinations to determine whether they have engaged in same-sex sexual relations. This backward, abhorrent and medically unnecessary practice has no place in the world today.

Egypt arrested the men after a video shared on social media showed concert goers raising a rainbow flag at the performance of the popular Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila, which has an openly gay lead singer. The video re-ignited widespread commentary and debate around homosexuality in Egypt, where social, cultural, political and religious attitudes towards LGBTQ Egyptians have been uniformly hostile.

“Political figures, political parties’ representatives, Members of Parliament and Al-Azhar religious scholars have also pressured the state to put an end to – what they called – attempts to corrupt the youth,” said  a coalition of human rights groups in a joint statement.

A week after the arrests, an Egyptian government council has banned the media from showing any kind of support for the LGBTQ community, further curtailing the freedom of expression and the role of media to objectively cover news about LGBTQ people.

HRC joins with other coalition partners in the #ColorsRNotShame campaign and their call to:

  1. Raise voices and awareness of these human rights abuses in Egypt.
  2. Remind the Egyptian state of its important responsibility to protect the security of all Egyptian citizens and guarantee the freedom of speech and expression.
  3. Call for the media to respect journalistic code of ethics and values of professionalism during their coverage, to defend human rights, and to avoid hate speech and demeaning terminology against Egyptian citizens.

We also call on the Trump/Pence administration to address these human rights violations as part of our nation’s ongoing relationship with Egypt. They must not be ignored.

We stand with Egyptian advocates as they continue their important work to bring equality for LGBTQ people in their country. Read more about our work here.

Update October 6, 2017: Since this blog was originally published, updated reports now say 57 people have been arrested during this crackdown, including at least one woman.