Middle East / North Africa

Boycott, video and more seek to block Egypt’s anti-gay bill

Activists' video puts Egypt's homophobia on display. (Click the image to watch the video.)

Activists’ video puts Egypt’s homophobia on display. (Click the image to watch the video.)

Human rights activists are using an advocacy video, a boycott and an analytical political update in their efforts to block a new proposal for toughening Egypt’s already-harsh anti-LGBTQ repression.

“We will not cure nor recognize them, but we can execute and get rid of them.”

That’s one sample of anti-LGBT attitudes on display in the “Against the Anti-LGBT Law” video that shows what’s at stake in a new proposal for toughening Egypt’s already-harsh anti-LGBT repression. The video cites the 65 arrests of gay and gay-friendly people that have taken place since a Sept. 22 concert in Cairo where audience members unfurled rainbow flags. It includes TV clips of people calling LGBT people a “disgrace, crime, shame and filth” and proposing the death penalty or life imprisonment for them.

Under current Egyptian law, suspected homosexuals are charged with debauchery (“fugur”), which is punishable by up to three years in prison.  Under the new bill, which would apply to both men and women, same-sex relations would be punishable by up to three years in prison, or five years for repeat offenders.

The proposed law also calls for imprisonment of up to three years for people who:

  • “Advertise or publicize any homosexual gathering”;
  • Manufacture, sell, market, advertise or carry “any symbol or code for homosexuals”; or
  • “Instigate” or “prepare a place” where same-sex relations occur.

The bill was described in this blog on Nov. 1 in the article “‘Wipe-Out-the-Queers’ Bill would expand Egypt’s crackdown.”

In addition to publishing the video, the Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organizations (AQEO) joined other Egyptian groups in calling for a boycott of the World Youth Forum, a conference scheduled for Nov. 4-11 in Egypt’s Sharm el Sheikh resort. The activists appealed to participants and speakers to withdraw their support and attendance from the conference at a time when Egypt is arresting young people, especially young LGBT people, and putting them behind bars.

REQUEST TO PARTICIPANTS AND SPEAKERS TO WITHDRAW THEIR SUPPORT AND ATTENDANCE FROM THE YOUTH FORUM TAKING PLACE IN EGYPT #WeNeedToTalk

Image from World Youth Forum website.

Image from World Youth Forum website.

Since 2013 the El Sisi government in Egypt has been targeting people they suspect of homosexuality and transsexuality. More than 300 people have been arrested and charged based on their suspected sexual orientations and gender identities.

Following the raising of a rainbow flag in a music concert in Cairo on the 22nd of last September, the Egyptian government has escalated its persecution, arresting more than 75 people. Currently, the Egyptian government is detaining and charging people who were associated with the rainbow flag incident, individuals or members of groups that advocate for gender and sexual diversity and men who allegedly have sex with men, allegedly gay men and trans women.

Some of those arrested have been forced to undergo anal examinations, which are now recognized as torture by international human rights groups. Additionally those detained have reported insults, beatings and sometimes sexual assault by both police officers and cellmates.

Ahmed Alaa and Sara Hegazy, two of the young defendants suspected of raising the flag at the concert, have been detained by Homeland Security and are being charged with joining an outlawed group that aims to disrupt the provisions of the constitution and the law through inciting “deviancy” (can be up to 15-year sentences). Alaa and Hegazy have been in detention since October 2nd and have yet to be allowed visitation rights.

Furthermore, The Egyptian Parliament is currently reviewing the “Criminalization of Homosexuality Law”, which will target people who practice same-sex sexual relationships (whether men or women) in public or in the privacy of their own homes. Additionally, this law prohibits any advocacy that promotes tolerance for gender and sexual diversity, as well as any signs, symbols or propaganda that can promote homosexuality. This law will most likely pass in the next few weeks.

The World Youth Forum is being used by the Egyptian government to sweep under the rug its flagrant persecution of youth not just for their sexual or gender practices, but for their political participation, research, art, literature and religious beliefs. Tens of thousands of youth have undergone forced disappearances, torture and are currently languishing in inhumane prison cells for the very same things that are part of the dialogue and agenda of World Youth Forum.

We, the undersigned, ask delegates and speakers attending this forum to take a stand and refuse to participate in the Egyptian government’s attempt to “youth-wash” its abuses and to make a statement against the Egyptian government’s persecution of people based on their suspected gender identities and sexual orientations.

Sincerely,

“Stop the Egyptian Government’s Rainbow Crackdown” : A Queer and Lesbian Egyptian Women’s Initiative

The Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organizations (AQEO)

Solidarity with Egypt’s LGBT

No Hate Egypt


In addition, AQEQ has prepared an update about the status of the bill:

Hello, dear friends and allies

Egypt's Parliament (Photo courtesy fo the Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organizations.)

Egypt’s Parliament (Photo courtesy fo the Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organizations.)

As part of the efforts of the Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organizations (AQEO) in Advocacy and Lobbying, we share with you today an overview and analysis of the context in which the Egyptian Parliament will be presented with a bill to criminalize homosexuality for consideration and voting, thus constituting one of the worst laws criminalizing sexual orientation around the world.

AQEO has launched #ColorsRNotShame campaign to encounter the current crackdown against LGBTQI individuals in Egypt and to confront the stigmatizing of gender and sexual diversity and portray it as a shame in the Egyptian media. This campaign was organized in collaboration with local LGBT organizations in different countries through protests in different cities worldwide such as Brussels, Vancouver, Cardiff, and Amsterdam on October 19th, as well as online campaigns in UK, South Africa and Sweden.

Overview of the [proposed] new anti-LGBT+ law in Egypt

On October 25, 2017, parliament member Reyad Abdulsattar Hassan, the representative of the Free Egyptians Party, proposed a new law to the Egyptian Speaker of the House, Mr. Ali Abdel Aal Sayyed, to criminalize homosexual relationships, incitement of homosexual relationships, advertising for homosexual parties or gatherings. The [proposed law would also] criminalize carrying symbols or signs of homosexuality.

This happened after a mass crackdown on LGBT+ individuals in Egypt started on September 22, 2017, in which the Egyptian government arrested 65 Egyptian citizens alleged sexual orientation and waving a rainbow flag in concert in Cairo.

The Free Egyptians Party is [supposedly] a liberal party, founded after the Egyptian Jan 25th revolution. It supports the principles of democracy and secular political order in Egypt. The party believes in freedom of expression and that citizens have the rights to peaceful assembly and that all citizens are equal without distinction. The new law is proposed by the representative of the Free Egyptians Party, Mr. Reyad Abdulsattar Hassan, who has studied in Al Azhar [the prestigious Sunni Muslim university], has a conservative background, born and raised in Upper Egypt. This was very clear in the introduction of the proposed law, which starts with the Quran and the prohibition of homosexuality by religions.

Although the Free Egyptians Party had a clear position against Islamist government in 2012, their representative uses the same approach as Islamists toward criminalizing homosexuality — a clear breach of party principles.

Passing the proposed law

This is not the first attempt at proposing an anti-homosexuality law to Parliament since the crackdown started in September.  On October 11, the independent MP Mahmoud Faozy Khamis proposed amending the provisions of Anti-Prostitution Law No. 10 of 1961 and the Penal Code No. 37 of 1958(5), to increase the penalty to 2-5 years instead of 3 months to 3 years, which is the penalty in the current law (No 10/1961- Prostitution law).

On October 14, another independent MP, Shadia Mahmoud Thabit,  declared that she had drafted a proposal for a new law to combat prostitution and incitement of immorality. (6), and she stated that the draft law consists of 15 articles, and repeals Law No. 10 of 1961 on prostitution and Law 68 of 1951.

“The new drafted law introduced penalties for the use of social media sites to call for homosexuals’ concerts and gatherings “any person who declares in any way by means direct or indirect invitations to soliciting sedition or prostitution on social media sites, shall be liable to imprisonment for a period not less than seven years and a fine”. …

Activists' video documents the status of Egypt's new anti-gay legislation. (Click the image to watch the video.)

Activists’ video documents the status of Egypt’s new anti-gay legislation. (Click the image to watch the video.)

The Egyptian Free Party has 65 MPs, which is the largest number of a party representatives in the Egyptian Parliament (11%). [This fact increases the likelihood] of passing this law compared with the other two proposals presented by independent MPs.  According to the new proposal draft, 67 parliament members have already signed it (11%). …

The Egyptian Constitution, international conventions [and]   the proposed law

The proposed law is unconstitutional and would violate international conventions ratified by the Egyptian state.

The Egyptian Constitution of 2014, Article 53, clearly states that “citizens are equal before the law, possess equal rights and public duties, and may not be discriminated against on the basis of religion, belief, sex, origin, race, color, language, disability, social class, political or geographical affiliation, or for any other reason. The state shall take all necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination, and the law shall regulate the establishment of an independent commission for this purpose.”

Article 57: Private life: “Private life is inviolable, safeguarded and may not be infringed upon. Telegraph, postal, and electronic correspondence, telephone calls, and other forms of communication are inviolable, their confidentiality is guaranteed. The state shall protect the rights of citizens to use all forms of public means of communication which may not be arbitrarily disrupted, stopped or withheld from citizens, as regulated by the law.”

Article 65: Freedom of thought and opinion is guaranteed. “All individuals have the right to express their opinion through speech, writing, Imagery, or any other means of expression and publication.”

Moreover, Egypt has signed (1967) and ratified (1982) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states in Article 19:

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

And in Article 26:

“All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

For more information, see the full “Overview of the [proposed] new anti-LGBT+ law in Egypt,” which includes links to supporting documentation.

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3 thoughts on “Boycott, video and more seek to block Egypt’s anti-gay bill

  1. You can’t “get rid” of 350 million gay people (5% of 7 billion global population) because it is the heterosexual parents who are having all the gay babies. The sheer scale of disposing of this many people is staggering. World War 2 “only” killed 50 million people, and took 6 years with all the Western world’s ordnance. At that pace, it will take 7x longer, i.e. 42 years to dispose of all LGBT people and a carnage the equivalent of disposing of the entire population of the United States of America. Meanwhile, several hundred million more LGBT babies will continue to be born to heterosexual parents, just as we always have. The only way, therefore, to be certain to rid the world of LGBT people is to rid the world of heterosexual parents. They really haven’t thought this through, have they?

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    • It can be contained to Muslim countries, though. But most gay men seem to want to turn Europe, the U.S., (and all of the west) into a Muslim-majority, and you know what will happen then.

      Like

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