Prosecution to keep alleged rainbow flag wavers in detention pending investigations
Courtesy: Ludovic Bertron via Wikimedia

Egypt’s State Security Prosecution renewed the detention of Ahmed Alaa for 15 days on Monday in connection to his alleged involvement in raising a rainbow flag in support of LGBTQ rights at a concert in Cairo last month.

Alaa was arrested on October 1, two weeks after a rainbow flag was raised at a gig for Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in Cairo, sparking a spate of dozens of arrests of LGBTQ individuals, or those perceived to be, by security forces. He faces charges of “inciting debauchery, communicating with foreign entities to receive foreign funding and joining an outlawed group.”

State Security Prosecution also renewed the detention of Sara Hegazy last week for 15 days. Hegazy was arrested on October 1, also over her alleged involvement in waving a rainbow flag at the gig.

Agouza Misdemeanor Court sentenced seven people involved in different cases involving LGBTQ individuals, or those security forces suspected of being LGBTQ, to six months in prison Thursday on charges of “habitual debauchery and spreading materials that promote debauchery,” according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

EIPR added that the Egyptian authorities’ campaign targeting LGBTQ individuals has led to the arrest of at least 65 people thus far. Two of those arrested have been acquitted, and two others were released by the prosecution. Twenty others have been handed prison sentences ranging from six months to six years, while the rest are still facing trial or undergoing interrogations.

The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) has condemned the arrest of at least 180 people “perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender” in three countries, including Egypt, Indonesia and Azerbaijan.” Arresting or detaining people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is by definition arbitrary and violates international law,” OHCHR said. The office called for the release of “anyone who has been detained on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Although an initial spate of arrests followed the Mashrou’ Leila gig in relation to the flag waving incident, a media frenzy calling on Egypt’s authorities to act against LGBTQ individuals based on their perceived moral threat to societal norms prompted dozens of further arrests of LGBTQ individuals from cafes and on social networking sites over the last few weeks. These arrests build on a wider historical crackdown by security forces on LGBTQ individuals or those perceived to not fit heterosexual societal norms using Egypt’s debauchery and anti-prostitution laws.


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