Egypt: 'Crackdown on LGBT people' after rainbow flags flown at rock concert

'LGBT crackdown' begins after rainbow flags flown at rock concert

Rainbow flags were flown at a concert (Stock image)

Monday, October 9, 2017

A number of LGBT people have reportedly been detained in Egypt after a crackdown thought to have been prompted by the sight of rainbow flags at a rock concert.

Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila were performing in Egypt on September 22 and its lead singer is openly gay. Fans reportedly flew the rainbow flag - a symbol for the LGBT community - at the gig.

In response, the Egyptian authorities, who have regularly subjected LGBT people to persecution in the past, have launched a fresh wave of arrests.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights claims that, since the concert, 57 people have been arrested.

In Egypt being gay is not illegal, however it is illegal to perform homosexual acts in public. It is thought many LGBT people are often arrested on different charges, with their identity the underlying reason.

Amnesty International also claims seven people were arrested days after the event on charges of “promoting sexual deviancy,” just for holding the flags up.

The group claims one of those arrested was handed a prison sentence of six years, while a further six individuals were allegedly subjected to anal examinations.

The concert took place near Cairo and local media reacted angrily to the flags, according to The Guardian.

TV host Ahmed Moussa​ claimed that being a homosexual is as bad as terrorism. Poet Mohsen al-Balasy appeared on television to say he was scared that society is excommunicating those who are different, but he was quickly removed.

The Egyptian Parliament is currently having a debate on the criminalisation of homosexuality. The current law means those convicted can face up to 15 years in jail.

A man who was arrested in 2014 said: “It’s truly messed up that the government leaves all the thuggery in the streets, poverty everywhere - and is concerned with what people are doing in their bedrooms.”