Egypt's Gay Community Under Fire From Local Authorities

Published: December 2, 2014

The Huffington Post
Najma Kousri Labidi
Original Article:

•    EGYPT — Since General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in June 2014, Egypt’s atmosphere has been tense. The nation’s law on demonstrations, adopted in 2013 under a military regime, may have contributed to a rebirth of popular silence and a climate of fear. Well-established oppression has affected the historical trajectory of a country that once, after its 2011 revolution, sought democracy.
•    Recently, Egyptian authorities have started to take aim at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community by increasing the number of roundups and arrests. Internationally, however, the reaction has been largely indifferent.
 •    In the early 2000s, the “Queen Boat” case became infamous: 52 men were arrested aboard a floating gay nightclub, which was moored on the Nile River. That night, those men were arrested after having been beaten up and mistreated by the police. Presented as “perverts” and “presumed guilty,” they were widely criticized by the media, and their identities were made public. Finally, they were found guilty on several charges and were each separately given prison sentences, without suspension.
•    Now that gay issues have been brought back into the spotlight, the figures are alarming. In an interview with HuffPost Tunisia on the increasing number of arrests and their consequences, Scott Long, an international human rights activist and former Executive Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, stated:
•    “The estimated number of arrests is about 90. Almost all concluded in convictions on different charges, all of them related to ‘debauchery,’ and up to 12 years of prison.”
•    The latest scandal was the arrest of eight people over a video which went viral on the Internet and which claimed to present the “first gay marriage in Egypt.” The video shows indistinct footage of two men. One of them gives the other one a ring, while a dozen individuals present seem to be celebrating. This video went viral on Arabic and Western websites, whereas the subsequent trials, full of several procedural flaws, received less media attention.

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