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Egypt police arrest man for leading 'gay sex network'

Egyptian police have arrested a man who is alleged to lead a 'gay sex network', his case has been transferred to prosecutors
Egypt police arrest man for leading 'gay sex network' in the town of El-Arish, Sinai

Egyptian police raided beach chalets in the town of el-Arish, Sinai yesterday (30 August), arresting a man who is alleged to head a ‘gay sex network.’

Police sources told Ma’an News Agency the man is a Cairo resident and his case was transferred to prosecutors.

The circumstances of the arrest have not been disclosed nor what kind of charges could the unidentified suspect face.

In recent weeks Egypt has stepped up a military campaign in the Sinai peninsula against radical Islamic insurgents.

Homosexuality is technically not illegal in Egypt but other charges have been consistently used, usually to do with public order and morals, to imprison and harass the Egyptian LGBT community.

These laws came to international attention in 2001 when 52 men were arrested in a raid on a Nile boat cruise and accused of participating in a gay sex party.

Twenty-three of the men were convicted and sentenced to up to five years for ‘debauchery’ and ‘defaming Islam.’

In more recent years several cases have been reported of men being arrested for meeting or attempting to meet others on online gay chat and message boards.

So far, in post-revolutionary Egypt, despite the ruling Muslim Brotherhood's embrace of democracy, there has been no indication that the state would ease persecution of the country's LGBT community, let alone related legislative reform.

In June, Egypt’s delegation to the UN Human Rights Council stated it does not consider gays to be ‘real people'.

‘Concerning the highly controversial notion of sexual orientation, we can only reiterate that it is not part of the universally recognized human rights,’ stated delegate Omar Shalaby.

Earlier this year, Al-Arabiya news site reported Egypt's first online magazine for the LGBT community, Ehna, was shut down due to ‘security reasons’. 

The magazine's Facebook page stated: ‘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.’

Speaking with Gay Star News, Ali, a 23-year-old law student from Cairo said: ‘I heard about the arrest and frankly I am very worried about the man who has been arrested.

'I’d like to see what exactly is meant by "gay sex network" and what are the charges, so we could examine this further.

'I honestly find it shocking, when there is a difficult security situation in Sinai, with terrorists causing all kind of problems. Why have the authorities jumped on this man?'

Ali urged human rights organizations to look into this case and inquire with the Egyptian authorities.

'As for the situation now in Egypt it is too early to tell where the wind will blow, but I am not hopeful. If this is any indication of what is to come, then this is just more of the same from the Mubarak years,' he added.

'Morsi so far has been pragmatic but recently appointed a Salafi to his presidential team, we will know more when the Egyptian constitution will be revised in the near future.'

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