Police have arrested 57 people in Egypt, based on being gay or support of LGBTI rights, and show no sign of stopping.
The charges of varied, including ‘debauchery’, ‘inciting sexual deviancy’ and ‘joining an outlawed group’.
Following rainbow flags being raised at the Mashrou’ Leila concert in Cairo, police have gone on a hunt against LGBTI people and allies.
Nine people have received prison sentences ranging from one to six years. Thirty-five people are facing trial, while two individuals – Sarah Hegazy and Ahmed Alaa – have been detained for 15 days.
It is unknown what has happened to the remaining 11 people.
Both Hegazy and Alaa are straight, but their lawyers have told Mada Masr they support the rights of LGBTI people.
‘I am not a member of the homosexual community, but my personal belief is that every person is free as long as they don’t harm others,’ he said to police. ‘I don’t know anyone from this community personally.’
Mashrou’ Leila, which has a gay frontman, condemned the crackdown on the LGBTI community in Egypt.
‘We cannot begin to explain how saddened we are to see yet another era of backwards tyranny creep over one of our most beloved countries and audiences,’ they said.
‘This crackdown is by no means separable from the suffocating atmosphere of fear and abuse experienced by all Egyptians on a daily basis, regardless of their sexual orientations.’
Mashrou’ Leila called for ‘an internationalist solidarity movement bent on pressuring the Egyptian regime to immediately halt its ongoing witch-hunt and release all detainees.’
A union of Egyption and international organizations have also called on Egyptian media outlets to stop falsely homosexuality a ‘disease’.
Many believe local media is inciting hate speech, and violating human rights.
‘We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, would like to remind media outlets that inciting hate speech violates human rights’ values, diversity and freedoms; we disapprove with repeated state arrests based on sexual orientation and gender identity; we refuse all acts that violate international laws and conventions such as torture in prison, humiliations and forced anal tests; and we confirm out commitment to freedom of expression and the right to security.’
The incident has sparked mass departures from the Egyptian capital, Cairo. GSN understands some activists have fled their homes in the city. Some have even gone abroad temporarily.