Egyptian Police arrested 10 men gay men in Alexandria on January 14, accusing them of “debauchery,” the Egyptian authorities’ catchall term for anyone suspected of homosexual conduct.
Police claimed they received reports of, “weird” men visiting an apartment apartment on Gameeya Street, Hanoville, in western Alexandria. Subsequent investigations indicated that a real estate agent rented the apartment months ago, and it was used to host group-sex parties.
This brings the number of known arrests to 85 people who have been caught up in a massive crackdown on LGBT people since several young people waved a rainbow flag at a Cairo concert in September.
More than 40 people have received prison sentences, with some subjected to forced anal exams, a form of torture. One, Ahmed Alaa, remains in pretrial detention after more than three months, activists say, despite a January 2 court order for his release on bail.
No law criminalizes homosexual conduct in Egypt. Instead, the government uses Law 10 of 1961 to prosecute suspected gay men. The law forbids prostitution and “debauchery,” and carries up to three years in prison and three years of supervised daily release.
Law 10 of 1961 prohibits inciting, soliciting, or maintaining premises for debauchery or prostitution. Article 9, for example, imposes:
– Punishment by imprisonment for a period not less than three months and not exceeding three years and a fine not less than 25 LE [Egyptian pounds, approximately $1.40 today] and not exceeding 300 LE in the Egyptian administration and not less than 250 Lira and not exceeding 3000 Lira in the Syrian administration or one of these two punishments applies in the following cases:
(a) Whoever lets or offers in whatever fashion a residence or place run for the purpose of debauchery or prostitution, or for the purpose of housing one or more persons, if they are to his knowledge practicing debauchery or prostitution.
(c) Whoever habitually engages in debauchery or prostitution.
It also permits that:
– Upon the apprehension of a person in the last category, it is permitted to send him for a medical examination. If it is discovered that he is carrying an infectious venereal disease, it is permitted to detain him in a therapeutic institute until his cure is completed.
Members of the Parliament of Egypt are vocally supportive of the government’s repression of the LGBT community, and some hope to see it increase. They have floated two new bills, one that will strengthen the existing debauchery and prostitution law by lengthening sentences and including messages on electronic media, and another that will outlaw homosexuality and increase sentences to five years. International human rights groups have condemned the bills.
The United Nations recently condemned crackdowns in Indonesia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Egypt. Even in Lebanon, perhaps the most gay-friendly Arab country, the police target the LGBT community. In Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, homosexual acts are punishable by death.