“The examinations violated the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law.”
Police rounded up at least 17 people in the days following a September 22, 2017 concert in Cairo at which young concertgoers waved rainbow flags, a symbol of solidarity with LGBT+ people. The concert was by Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou’ Leila, whose lead singer Hamed Sinno is an openly gay LGBT+ rights advocate. Police reportedly used images shared on social media to identify the people arrested after the concert.
According to Gay Times, the men were arrested by authorities for “violating the teachings of religion and public morals,” with the state-owned Al-Ahram institution saying that they have been detained for being homosexual. One of the men was arrested through entrapment on a dating app, with police claiming he had been among those to wave a flag.
A further six men were picked up six men from the streets, with security forces claiming they were all involved in the rainbow flag incident.
After being arrested, the men were reportedly subjected to ‘anal examinations’ so police could determine if they have regular anal sex.
Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson, called for the men to be released.
“Whether they were waving a rainbow flag, chatting on a dating app, or minding their own business in the streets, all these debauchery arrest victims should be immediately released,” she said. “The Egyptian government, by rounding people up based on their presumed sexual orientation, is showing flagrant disregard for their rights.”
Amnesty International reported that the men on trial would be be subject to intimate examinations by the Forensic Medical Authority to determine whether they had had homosexual sex.
Amnesty said the examinations violated the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law, but a judicial source said they would be carried out by “a forensic doctor who swore to respect his profession and its ethics”.
The Dokki Misdemeanor Court in Giza sentenced the first man on September 26 to six years in prison and a fine for “debauchery,” based on his presumed sexual conduct, and “inciting debauchery,” as prosecutors alleged he was among those who raised the rainbow flag at the concert. The court sentenced him to an additional six years of probation which will require reporting to the police from 6p.m. to 6a.m. until 2029. No lawyer was present at his trial. He now has legal representation, and his appeal will be heard on October 11.
This round-up comes on the heels of a similar police crackdown on gay and trans people in Azerbaijan.
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