Mike Pence Heads to Egypt Amid Brutal Anti-LGBTQ Crackdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization — reiterated its call for the Trump administration to forcefully condemn the Egyptian government’s escalating anti-LGBTQ crackdown. On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence — a man whose own political career has been defined by anti-LGBTQ animus — is scheduled to meet with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the country’s LGBTQ people face brutal human rights abuses. To date, repeated calls on the White House to speak out against the atrocities have been met with silence.

“Unless Pence uses the opportunity to forcefully speak out against these human rights abuses, the U.S. risks emboldening the Egyptian government’s assault on LGBTQ people and Pence will — once again — reaffirm his position as one of the most anti-LGBTQ politicians in the U.S.,” said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. “The deafening silence from this White House on human rights abuses in Egypt and around the globe must end. This is a moment that demands moral leadership.”

The Egyptian government’s brutal anti-LGBTQ human rights abuses started in September when a group of concert-goers committed the “crime” of raising a rainbow flag. Since then, more than 70 Egyptian LGBTQ people and allies have been arrested, some receiving jail sentences of up to six years. The government has also instructed the media that they can only report on LGBTQ people as having “a shameful disease,” making it more difficult for this crackdown to be accurately reported in Egypt. Meanwhile, members of the Egyptian parliament have proposed legislation that would not only further criminalize LGBTQ Egyptians, but even criminalize allies who speak out on their behalf.

Under previous administrations, equality and human rights were a pillar of U.S. foreign policy, but the Trump-Pence White House has remained silent on the attacks in Egypt and elsewhere, sending deeply disturbing signals to the world’s most brutal regimes. From Russia to Indonesia to Egypt, Trump and Pence have looked the other way on LGBTQ human rights abuses.

Pence has a long history of promoting discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ public policy. For example, as governor of Indiana, he became a national disgrace in 2015 for his “license to discriminate” bill that could have allowed businesses to deny service to LGBTQ people. As vice president, he has helped lead the charge for discriminatory policies — like an executive order granting a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and attempting to ban transgender service members in the military. Trump reportedly even once joked that Pence wanted to “hang” all gay people.  

HRC has repeatedly called on high-level leaders in the Trump administration to condemn the human rights abuses in Egypt. Calls from HRC and partner organizations have been met with silence. Members of Congress have also called on Pence to raise these and other human rights issues during his visit.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.


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