Egypt's homosexuals struggle for freedom

Published: May 13, 2013

Fifty-two men were arrested on May 11, 2001, on Queen Boat, a gay nightclub on the Nile in Cairo, in one of the most publicized police raids against homosexuals in Egypt.

Out of the accused, many of whom were tortured and raped while detained, 23 were convicted for debauchery and defaming Islam and sentenced to up to five years in prison with hard labour.

To make matters worse, national media published their names, photographs and professions to publicly humiliate them, dubbing them “Cairo52”.

Twelve years later and in honor of the Queen Boat incident, gay rights activists in Egypt decided to mark May 11 as the “Egyptian Day Against Homophobia” (EDAHO), one week before the International Day Against Homophobia, which lies on May 17.

During this week, activists have launched an online campaign urging their supporters all over the world to tweet and blog their solidarity for the gay community’s rights.

“Cairo52 was no more than a gloomy beginning of a dark era that witnessed different forms of oppression and discrimination against LGBTIQ individuals in Egypt,” EDAHO posted on its Facebook page.

“LGBTIQ” is an abbreviation that is used to describe the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed and questioning community.

“It’s time to end the fear that prevents young and new generations of the Egyptian LGBITQ community from coming out even to their own selves,” the organizers added in the post. 

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