Being Gay in Egypt: 'Some of my best friends do not know me'

Published: February 1, 2011

In Egypt, laws on public morality are severe – homosexuality is seldom openly acknowledged. Whilst being gay is not technically illegal it is unacceptable in Egypt, it is frowned upon socially, culturally, religiously and politically. Gay people are vilified by the press and the public, Al Balagh Al Gadid, an independent weekly newspaper, was banned after accusing actors of homosexuality.

The personal struggle of many young gay Egyptians is constant- they must deny who they are to survive. Yet despite hostility, there are many Egyptians out there hoping that society will change its strict laws and accept them for who they are.

“Mohammed” is a good-looking man in his early twenties with a successful career and a very open mind. I met him for the first time in a quiet little coffee shop in central Cairo. In perfect English he tells me that he hides a secret most of the time: he is gay.

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