Egypt is hell for the LGBT community

February 17, 2019

 

 

The LGBT community has fought for their rights worldwide, and in some countries the legal battle has been won. However, the LGBT community of Egypt still struggle to flourish, as the community faces scrutiny and harsh realities. This came to a head recently, with Egyptian TV presenter Mohamed al-Gheity has being accused of “promoting homosexuality” on his show for interviewing an unnamed gay man. As a result, he has been sentenced to one year of hard labour and fined 3,000 Egyptian pounds. The most unusual factor of this issue however, is that the TV host was by no means defending or promoting the LGBT community. In fact, Mohamed al-Gheity has on several occasions expressed his homophobia on TV. This makes this drastic treatment for seemingly “promoting” homosexuality appear quite absurd. Although the Egyptian penal code does not specify homosexuality and same-sex conduct as an illegal activity, the government has turned to other means to functionally illegalise the practice. In most cases, blasphemy laws are used to accuse the LGBT community of “debauchery” which is outrageously vague and outdated. Under this façade, gay Egyptians are attacked and imprisoned.

 

Since the ‘Rainbow Flag incident’ in 2017, the crackdown on the LGBT community has severely increased. Despite the peaceful way the Egyptian youth raised the Rainbow colour flag to advocate for the LGBT rights, they were faced with severe backlash. The Egyptian media took the incident with much malice and campaigned for a fierce pursuit of the youths who took part in the flag raising incident. The government began to arrest large number of individuals according to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Two out of the eighty-four arrested were charged with disruption of state security, and halting the rule of the constitution. Any true democracy would see this as a violation towards human rights. To take such radical actions against the LGBT community for raising a flag just goes to show the backwardness of Egyptian thought. The state and the conservative public paint the LGBT community as a force of evil that must be dealt with, because the mere existence of it appears to threaten the regressive ideology that thrives in Egypt.

 

 

The 2013 survey from Pew Research Centre revealed that 95% of Egyptians believe that homosexuality should not be accepted as a norm in their society. The opposition towards homosexuality still controls Egyptian society today, and this makes the country unbearable for members of the LGBT community. The regime tactfully uses religious populism to exploit the belief of the conservative right-wing nationalist, and will use this narrative to paint themselves as the “defender of public will and morality”.

 

 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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