Cairo: It’s been reported that the Egyptian authorities are involved in luring gay men through the famous dating app Grindr, calling them to hotels rooms and then charging them with debauchery because of their obsession with “penetration”.
The violent attack on the sexual minorities is reported to have prompted after a rainbow flag being waived at a concert of Mashrou’ Leila in Lebanon.
A gender rights researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Public Rights, Dalia Abdel-Hameed how the Egyptian authorizes are using the “cultivation” techniques to target the gay men, seducing them through dating apps to hotels and then immediately arresting them.
Ms. Abdel-Hameed said, “It’s related to the fact that men are using apps more than women and an obsession of who is being penetrated. There is this penetration mania in Egypt due to religious reasons, mostly”.
So far, more than 57 men, mostly gay, have been charged with spreading pornographic content and charges of debauchery. The men were lured through social dating apps by the morality police of Egypt which is part of Egypt’s social security apparatus.
It all started with a 22-year-old Egyptian law student, Ahmed Alaa, raised the rainbow flag during a concert which went viral. Since then, then authorities have been reported to have taken repressive measures against the LGBTIQ community in Egypt.
One of the concert attendees talked about her entire experience with Fairfax Media:
“I was actually at the Mashrou’ Leila concert that sparked the whole issue. I was standing in the back and I saw the raising of the rainbow flag happen from a distance,” said Amber, who preferred a pseudonym for her safety.
In the recent wave of arrests, one man was sentenced to six years in jail on the charge of practicing debauchery.
Other amongst the arrested were put through intense anal examinations. Ms. Abdel-Hameed says, “People are living in fear and persecution. This is really the biggest crackdown we’ve witnessed … We have seen this pattern before but it is far more vicious this time.”
Jasmine (pseudonym), who came out as a Transgender woman in front of her family a decade ago, says that the series of debilitating events of arrest and punishments haunt her.
“Every day just leaving home is an unpleasant experience. From the stares of disgust to the swearing, people treat me as if I am an alien from another planet. I am estranged from society at large,” She told Fairfax Media.
Egypt doesn’t have a law regarding homosexuality but the term “debauchery” and its legal vagueness is enough to land any gay person into jail.
Due to all of this, Jasmine, 25, and Amber, 30, both say that they are more cautious of their online behavior and prefer not to send their photos or videos to others.
“I try to use only secure chat applications for communicating with queer friends. I also use VPN in certain situations to hide my IP address,” Amber explains.
It’s not the first time that a crackdown was conducted against gay men in Egypt. In 2014, 33 men were arrested at a bath-house for holding “orgies”. The sting operation didn’t just arrest the men but also broadcasted dragging them out nationally.
What’s the prison term?
Amongst those who were recently arrested, four were sent to three years in jail while other six were forced to undergo invasive anal exams.
Lawmakers seek homosexuality as an act of deviancy and there’s even a draft presented by the parliament earlier this week that aims to jail homosexual individuals for up to three years.
Dr. Shadia Thabet, Sisi’s close MP, is also amongst those who are preparing a draft to criminalize homosexuality in Egypt. “They [LGBTIQ Egyptians] are not equal to humans,” she told Fairfax Media. “This is a matter of national security and their personal freedoms should not impinge on our society and the future generations.”
She went on to say that the country is already trying to deal with Hepatitis C and now HIV, which is spreading even faster due to homosexuality.
Being a transgender in Egypt is not less than a life-or-death matter. For now, it’s uncertain what will be the fate of transgender community living there.