During a concert in Cairo on September 22, audience members waved an LGBT+ pride flag sparking an immediate response from the Egyptian government.
At least 32 men and one woman have been arrested since this event. Those who are currently being detained have been charged with “joining a group formed in contrary to the law,” and in some cases, there is an additional charge of “promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery.”
While homosexuality is not criminalized in Egypt, discrimination towards LGBT+ people is common. LGBT+ people often face violence and homophobia. According to Najia Bounaim of Amnesty International, “This is the worst crackdown against people based on their perceived sexual orientation since the mass arrests of 52 people following a raid on the Queen Boat in 2001.”
People suspected to be LGBT+ are often targeted through social media content and dating apps. The Human Rights Watch reports that hundreds of people have been imprisoned due to their perceived sexual orientation and sexual conduct since 2014.
Mashrou’ Leila, the band that performed in Cairo, has been banned from performing in Egypt in the future. Mashrou’ Leila has released a statement showing their support for the people of Egypt and denouncing human rights violations. The band stated, “It is sickening to think that all this hysteria has been generated over a couple of kids raising a piece of cloth that stands for love.”
Media Sources: Huffington Post 10/2/17, Amnesty International 10/2/17, Human Rights Watch 10/3/17, Al-Bab 10/3/17