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Rights groups urge Egypt to halt crackdown on homosexuals

Homosexuality is highly taboo in Egypt among Muslims and minority Christians alike [AFP]

Date of publication: 30 September, 2017

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Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch urged Egypt to halt their crackdown on people suspected of homosexuality following the waving of the LGBT rainbow flag at a recent Cairo concert.
Rights group have demanded authorities in Egypt to urgently suspend their crackdown on suspected homosexuals, following the waving of the LGBT rainbow flag recently at a Cairo concert.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called on Egypt to halt anal examination of those detained on suspicion of homosexuality - a procedure used to determine whether they engaged in same-sex sexual relations.

They said the practice amounted to torture and called it "abhorrent" and scientifically unsound.

"The fact that Egypt's Public Prosecutor is prioritising hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable. These men should be released immediately and unconditionally – not put on trial," said Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty International.

"Forced anal examinations are abhorrent and amount to torture," Bounaim said.

"The Egyptian authorities have an appalling track record of using invasive physical tests which amount to torture against detainees in their custody," she added.

"All plans to carry out such tests on these men must be stopped immediately."

HRW urged authorities to stop devoting state resources to hunt down people for their sexual orientation, and instead focus on improving its human rights record - alluding to the ongoing crackdown by authorities on Islamists and secular pro-democracy activists while slapping draconian restrictions on street demonstrations and freedom of speech.

"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," HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson said.

"The Egyptian government, by rounding people up based on their presumed sexual orientation, is showing flagrant disregard for their rights."

Egypt arrested at least seven people last week after footage of the rainbow flag raising surfaced on social media.

The incident took place during a concert by Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou' Leila, a jazzy, electro-Arabesque group whose lead singer is openly gay.

Homosexuality is highly taboo in Egypt among Muslims and minority Christians alike, but it is not explicitly prohibited by law.

Egypt regularly arrests gay men, with large police raids on private parties or locations such as public baths, restaurants and bars.

In practice, they prosecute individuals under such charges as "immorality" and "debauchery".

Agencies contributed to this report.

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