Egyptian authorities are using a "debauchery" law to justify a crackdown on gay and trans people. December 28, , 5: But Egyptian authorities are cracking down on the LGBT community , its supporters, and advocates for social liberalization more broadly. Fans waved rainbow flags in support of LGBT rights, leading to a media outcry against homosexuality and perceived immorality.
The government immediately arrested over 60 men and women for suspected gay conduct or for waving the flag. Police performed anal examinations on some, a scientifically-debunked procedure to determine whether they had engaged in anal sex. Sarah Hegazy, one of the women arrested, says guards abused her and allowed cellmates to beat her.
Sixteen had been convicted by the end of November. The New York Times happened to be filming a documentary report about Esraa, one of the women waving the flag, and she is now on the run from law enforcement.
The government simultaneously banned media statements supporting homosexuality. Since August, Egyptian law enforcement has intensified entrapment campaigns against LGBT folks, using fake profiles on dating sites and social media and arresting those who show up for dates. No law criminalizes homosexual conduct in Egypt. Instead, the government uses Law 10 of to prosecute suspected gay and trans people.
Law 10 of Because the blanket term for debauchery, fujur, is not defined in the statute, the law is broad enough to allow the police and prosecutors to use it against LGBT-identified Egyptians and their supporters. During the s, however, international and local sentiment turned against legalized sex work. Responding to increasingly religious sentiments, parliamentarians originally created Law 10 in 19 5 1 against debauchery and prostitution.
Lawmakers updated the law in to include Syria, then unified with Egypt as the United Arab Republic , so it is now called Law 10 of Rather, it was a secular codification of the U. Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, to which Egypt acceded in Law 10 of prohibits inciting, soliciting, or maintaining premises for debauchery or prostitution.
Article 9, for example, imposes: It also permits that: Upon the apprehension of a person in the last category, it is permitted to send him for a medical examination. If it is discovered that he is carrying an infectious venereal disease, it is permitted to detain him in a therapeutic institute until his cure is completed.
But there were no large-scale crackdowns until the Queen Boat raid in May , when 52 men were arrested on a Nile party boat. Several dozen men were taken into custody and brutally beaten. The arrests and charges were accompanied by massive media coverage. During two trials over the course of five months, several men were subject to anal examinations, and 21 of the 52 put on trial were sentenced to the maximum sentence, three years in prison and three years of probational observation.
In , the government arrested more than a dozen men suspected of contracting HIV, and, as the law permits, forcibly tested them and convicted some of them. Perhaps surprisingly, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi , the Muslim Brotherhood member who was democratically elected, did not enforce Law 10 of heavily — perhaps because he lacked strong control of the state security apparatus.
The LGBT community in Egypt became more out and vocal , hosting large parties and generating social media campaigns, as fear of repression decreased. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the military officer who deposed Morsi in and then won elections with 96 percent of the vote, quickly broadened campaigns and arrests.
His regime has quadrupled arrests of gay and trans people under various Egyptian laws. His government has confined over 60, political prisoners since August New anti-civil liberties laws, such as limitations on NGO activity, restrict both Islamist and human rights organizing.
However, it appears that suppression of the LGBT community comes from a different motivation than silencing dissent: Sisi is demonstrating to the Egyptian populace that though he deposed an Islamist president, his government still upholds conservative religious values.
The arrests get positive press coverage for the security forces, who otherwise have a poor reputation. They have floated two new bills, one that will strengthen the existing debauchery and prostitution law by lengthening sentences and including messages on electronic media, and another that will outlaw homosexuality and increase sentences to five years.
International human rights groups have condemned the bills. Enforcement against media figures Aided by active citizens, the government is also using the law against media personalities and authors who speak out about social liberalization.
The law allows individuals to refer cases to the state prosecutor if they feel they have been harmed by obscenity, similar to the procedure that allows American citizens to file a Federal Communications Commission obscenity complaint in the U. The complaint procedure stems from an inherited French legal procedure, but also responds to pressures implemented by conservative Muslim activists who have pressed the Egyptian government to embrace traditional Islamic social morality enforcement mechanisms.
The state prosecuted her for a monologue on where she appeared to be pregnant and spoke in support of unwed mothers, going so far as to suggest that they hire men to serve as sperm donors.
Her sentence is being appealed and may be overturned. Enforcement against public speech and obscenity has veered into the absurd: In Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, homosexual acts are punishable by death. However, as Egypt attempts to tout its diplomatic record and improve its reputation in the international arena, it is important to note that Sisi is repressing a large range of forms of dissent.