It was reported last week that seven people were arrested at a concert in Cairo for ‘promoting sexual deviancy’ after footage of them waving a Pride flag in the crowd was shared on social media on September 22.
Amnesty International claims that Egyptian authorities are now arbitrarily arresting members of the LGBT+ community, accusing them of being involved in the rainbow flag incident.
“A sinister smear campaign by Egyptian media against those believed to have raised the rainbow flag at the Mashrou’ Leila concert, has given security forces a green light to carry out arrests of at least 11 people based on their alleged sexual orientation,” says Amnesty’s Najia Bounaim.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also condemned the anti-LGBT+ crackdown—writing that one man was arrested through entrapment on a dating app.
“Whether they were waving a rainbow flag, chatting on a dating app, or minding their own business in the streets, all these debauchery arrest victims should be immediately released,” said HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson.
The men who were arrested on September 27 are currently awaiting trial. Amnesty has noted that the detainees will be subjected to anal examinations before they appear in court.
“Forced anal examinations are abhorrent and amount to torture,” says Bounaim.
“The Egyptian authorities have an appalling track record of using invasive physical tests which amount to torture against detainees in their custody. All plans to carry out such tests on these men must be stopped immediately."
Egypt does not have any anti-LGBT laws in place, yet gay men are often arrested on other charges including debauchery.
Whitson has called on Egpyt to halt the anti-LGBT crackdown and focus on improving human rights in the country.
“Egypt should stop dedicating state resources to hunting people down for what they allegedly do in their bedrooms, or for expressing themselves at a rock concert, and should instead focus energy on improving its dire human rights record,” Whitson said.
The men who were initially arrested were attending a performance by popular Lebanese rock band, Mashrou’ Leila, whose lead singer is openly gay. The band has now been reportedly banned from performing in Egypt.
Mashrou’ Leila has since shared a change.org petition on their social media pages, calling for an end to human rights violations in Egypt.