Persecution of Homosexuals (Egypt)

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Note that this page may contain news regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, and transsexual people (LGBTT)

55 men arrested and subjected to beatings, electroshock, torture, and abuse in order to force confessions. 52 men charged with "obscene behavior" and "contempt for religion"

On the night of May 10/11, 2001, State Security police, accompanied by members of the vice squad, raided the Queen Boat discotheque in Cairo, Egypt. At least 55 men were arrested there and in random police pickups during the following days. A few of the detainees were later released: all the rest have been held in detention, mostly in Tora prison, since their arrest. 52 of the men were brought before an Emergency State Security Court, the verdicts of which cannot be appealed. The trial of these 52 began on July 18 and is still ongoing, with a verdict scheduled to be delivered on November 14.

All the 52 defendants were charged with "obscene behavior" under a law against prostitution (Article 9c of Law No. 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution). Two of the men, accused of being the ringleaders of a homosexual "cult," are charged in addition with "contempt for religion" under Article 98f of the Penal Code. All 52 have pleaded innocent and are presenting individual defenses.
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1/ At least some of the men have been tortured in detention

Reports from lawyers indicate that the men were subjected to beatings, electroshock, and abuse from their first incarceration in the police lockup, apparently in order to force them to confess to homosexual acts. During trial hearings, some of the men detained have managed to tell friends, family, and reporters through the wires of the courtroom cage that the beatings and abuse continue. Moreover, the juvenile sentenced on September 18 claimed a confession had been extracted from him by torture--although the judge ignored the allegation. Authorities refuse to investigate these claims. (See appendix for evidences of torture)

2/ The men were subjected to abusive and intrusive forensic tests to "prove their homosexuality"

After their arrest, many of the men were subjected to forensic examinations of the genitals and anus, apparently in order to determine whether they had engaged in anal intercourse. The results of these examinations were presented at hearings before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on June 6 and 7, and have since been used as evidence before the Court. Human Rights Watch and IGLHRC have condemned such examinations as a form of cruel and inhuman treatment, "profoundly degrading and humiliating to those forced to undergo them." They are comparable to forced examinations of a woman's virginity, a practice which has been condemned by the United Nations.
Egypt: Egyptian Justice on Trial - The Case of the Cairo 52
International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, October 15, 2001

The Egyptian State Information Service says homosexuality "defies normality," officially branding homosexuals "perverts" who spread AIDS

The ESIS said that because homosexuality is illegal under Islamic Sharia law, its practise is believed to be "socially detested". The organisation said that homosexuality "defies normality," it blamed gay men for spreading AIDS and branded homosexuals "perverts". The statement went on to describe Egypt as enlightened in its criminalising of homosexuality, and western countries who implement laws protecting partnership rights for same sex couples as "perverted".
. . .

It read: "Egypt is a Muslim country and according to our Islamic Sharia teachings and tenets, sex should be practiced between a male and a female strictly through conjugal relations—the "family" being the core and nucleus of the Islamic society. That is in full obedience and conformity with the natural disposition of Mankind as Created by God for the population of the Earth with righteous men and women, not wrong doers who commit vice by practicing their lusts on men in preference to women (or the latter with the same sex in preference to men)."

The email continued: "Consequently, homosexuality is socially detested and legally condemned and persecuted. It defies the society’s norms and moralities as inspired by the religion and stipulated by law. And this is for the good interest of families and children to live in a society free from both physical and psychological disease and problems. It is worth mentioning in this context Egypt currently does not suffer from disastrous plagues such as HIV AIDS which haunts non-Muslim societies."

It added: "Moreover, one might agree that such a perverted practice is a question of individual freedom on the grounds that one can use or exploit his own body freely and in the way he likes. But the freedom of anyone ends at the point where other’s start. For instance, no one can take to the streets all naked, thus offending the society and transgressing its values. In this context it is worth noting that those perverts, while inside the bar for trial, were very keen, out of shame, to cover and hide their faces from the press cameras because they were innately aware that they have transgressed all sacred tenets of society."

The statement criticised attempts in the West to enshrine gay rights in law. It said: "It is not out of backwardness that we denounce and criminalise homosexuality, for persecuting disgrace, mischief and perversion is full in tune with our civilization, cultural and religious—the true civilization, not the perverted one—which accepts and even legitimizes homosexuality and homosexual marriage!!"
Egypt Officially Brands Homosexuality ‘Perverted’
Rainbow Network (U.K. glbt), March 13, 2002

Gay Israeli tourist arrested and interrogated by the Egyptian authorities after meeting someone who he had met in a chat room. Held in custody in Cairo Prison for more than two weeks

According to sources, "S" was arrested after meeting someone who he had met in a chat room in one of Cairo's internet cafe's near the American University in Cairo. Directly after they met, he was told that he was under arrest and was taken away. news staff has spoken with the official spokesman of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, who confirmed these details, but was unable to provide us with additional facts relating to "S"'s arrest and exact whereabouts.

As we mentioned above, we were kept abreast of the developments surrounding the case, but abided by the embassy's request not to make them public.
. . .
On July 22nd, "S" was finally brought before a judge, who immediately extended his stay in prison for an additional 15 days.
. . .
On August 5, 2003, news was notified that "S" has been released on condition. as on the following day he has to appear before a judge in a Cairo court. He has been put up in a Cairo hotel by the Israeli embassy.

On August 6 he appeared in front of a judge and was released and immediately after that he was on the way out of Egypt. At evening he arrived to Jerusalem - Israel.
Egypt released the Israeli gay tourist
GayMiddleEast, August 6, 2003

Egyptian government arrests and tortures 100's of men suspected of homosexual activity. Gays bound, suspended painfully, burned or submerged in ice-cold water, and subjected to electroshock on limbs and genitals

The Egyptian government continues to arrest and routinely torture men suspected of consensual homosexual conduct, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The detention and torture of hundreds of men reveals the fragility of legal protections for individual privacy and due process for all Egyptians.
. . .

Police routinely torture men suspected of homosexual conduct. The report cites testimonies of victims telling how they were bound, suspended in painful positions, burned with cigarettes or submerged in ice-cold water, and subjected to electroshock on their limbs and genitals. Numerous testimonies in the report accuse Taha Embaby, head of Cairo's Vice Squad, of direct participation in torture.

Doctors participate in torturing suspected homosexuals, under the guise of collecting forensic evidence to support the charge of “habitual debauchery,” Human Rights Watch found. Prosecutors refer suspects to the Forensic Medical Authority, an arm of Egypt’s Ministry of Justice. Doctors there compel the men to strip and kneel; they massage, dilate and in some cases penetrate the prisoners’ anal cavities, subjecting them to intrusive, abusive, and degrading examinations to “prove” the men have committed homosexual acts.

Five men charged with the "habitual practice of debauchery". Prosecutor says the men, four of whom are HIV-positive, should not be allowed to "roam the streets freely" because they're "a danger to public health"

STIGMATISING HIV-positive men will not help the Egyptian government contain the spread of the disease. Officials are accused of using the HIV status of some gay men to bolster the case for jailing them under anti-gay laws, and violating human rights by forcing detainees to undergo HIV tests and intimate bodily examinations. Last week, five men were put on trial, charged with the "habitual practice of debauchery" - a euphemism for homosexual sex. As the trial began, the lead government prosecutor told a lawyer for the defendants that the men, four of whom are HIV-positive, should not be allowed to "roam the streets freely" because the government considers them "a danger to public health". By linking HIV status to "debauched activities", the government risks undermining attempts to contain HIV, by discouraging people from getting tested and seeking treatment, says Joseph Amon of Human Rights Watch.
Egyptian government accused of HIV witch-hunt
New Scientist, issue 2648, March 23, 2008

Country's only gay magazine announces after publishing its first and only issue, "We have been forced to shut down the online magazine due to security reasons"

The closing down of an online magazine catering for the gay community in Egypt, believed to be first of its kind, has stirred concerns from rights activists about the status of homosexuals in the country.

Ehna, which translates from Arabic to “us,” halted its online circulation earlier this year in hushed circumstances, with an abrupt statement, after launching its first issue.

On the magazine’s Facebook page, once abundant with empowering slogans, links and screenshots from the magazine’s web pages, a lone message posted on May 27, reads:

“We have been forced to shut down the online magazine due to security reasons. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.”

Ehna had a bold mission statement: To become the voice for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) communities in Egypt. The magazine attempted to defend their rights, tackle homophobia in the country and raise awareness on issues such as HIV, spotlighting celebrity members of the gay Egyptian community.

But as the site’s announcements gathered pace, the site came to a standstill. Commenters who had breathed a sigh of relief that an online magazine for the homosexual community had launched, were left stumped.
. . .

Despite the magazine describing itself as “a magazine for homosexuals in Egypt,” Charbel Maydaa, the executive director Helem, the Lebanese non-profit organization working on improving the legal and social status of LBGTs, said: “Due to security purposes, we cannot disclose where the Ehna magazine is based.”
The curious case of Egypt’s first gay magazine
Eman El-Shenawi, Al Arabiya, August 24, 2012

Satirist criticized for “insulting Islam” after hosting a band whose lead singer is gay, accused of “giving (homosexuals) a platform”

Some people criticized Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef this week for “insulting Islam” after hosting a band whose lead singer is gay.

However, Youssef said it was not was his place to ask about his guests’ sexual orientation.

In a live interview with Huffington Post’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Youssef said that it is “ridiculous” critics would condemn him for allegedly misrepresenting Islam because he hosted on his show on Friday a Lebanese band, Mashrou Leila.

Hamed Sinno, the group’s lead singer, had previously announced that he was gay. However, the issue was not brought up during the band’s segment on Youssef’s show, “Al Bernameg.”

“I heard their song, and I didn’t ask about their [sexual] orientation,” said Youssef. “We invited them and they came… I did not check [Sinno’s] background.”

Shihab-Eldin told Al Arabiya English that he interviewed Youssef on the topic of homosexuality because the political satire comedian was accused of “giving [homosexuals] a platform” on his show.

“It’s a popular band being heard all over the place,” Youssef told Shihab-Eldin.

“They will try to dig out anything to alienate you in front of the people, whether it is religion or America,” said the comedian.
. . .

Last month, Egypt’s public prosecutor summoned the popular TV host Bassem Youssef, calling for him to be brought in for alleged insults he made against Islam and Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.