Egypt's Sissi Increasingly Cracking Down on Gay Community

'There is a lot of fear in Egypt’s gay community,' one activist tells the Washington Post. 'Many people want to leave the country.'

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Eight Egyptian men convicted for 'inciting debauchery' following their appearance in a video of an alleged same-sex wedding party on a Nile boat cover their faces in the defendant's cage.
Eight Egyptian men convicted for 'inciting debauchery' following their appearance in a video of an alleged same-sex wedding party on a Nile boat cover their faces in the defendant's cage.Credit: AP

Egyptian authorities have been cracking down on the country's gay community, and arrests of gay men have been on the rise since President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi came to power in 2013, according to the Washington Post.

Police last month raided a public bathhouse in Cairo last month and arrested two dozen men suspected of being gay. They dragged the men out of the building naked before taking them to prison.

Egyptian law does not explicitly prohibit consensual same-sex relations but prosecutes and imprisons gay men on charges such as “debauchery” and “shameless public acts.”

“It’s a full-on crackdown on all sorts of freedoms,” an Egyptian gay rights activist told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity. “There is a lot of fear in Egypt’s gay community. Many people want to leave the country.”

In April, four men were convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison each for “debauchery” after allegedly holding parties that involved homosexual acts and where women’s clothing and makeup were found.

Rights groups say that about 150 people have been arrested in such raids, according to the Post.

One troubling aspect of the December 7 raid on the bathhouse, or hammam, is that it was provoked by journalists. According to the Washington Post, Al Kahera Wal Nas, a popular satellite channel in Egypt, was going to feature the bathhouse in a report on AIDS is Egypt.

Journalists from the channel told police that gay men visited the site to have sex, and their cameras were on site when forces raided the bathhouse, the paper reported.

“This is the first time I have seen such close coordination between the media and the security forces” another activist told the Washington Post.

Rights groups say these men suffer following their arrest – they are often beaten and verbally abused, fail to find lawyers to defend them and lose contact with their families due to the shame of being arrested.

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