Egypt parliamentarian calls for toughening laws targeting homosexuals
An Egyptian lawmaker has called on parliament to make legislation targeting homosexuals more severe, after several concertgoers were arrested for raising the rainbow flag of the LGBT movement.
Shadia Thabit told online news website Parlimany on Wednesday that she wanted to see "immorality and debauchery" laws carry a prison sentence of ten years.
"What happened at the concert cannot be accepted by society. Declaring yourself as a homosexual is not a human right," Thabit said.
"How can they openly announce their sins? Don't talk to me about human rights they should go get lost far away from us," she said, adding that toughening the law would stop the "corruption" of society.
Egyptian authorities on Monday arrested seven people they accuse of being gay and promoting homosexuality for allegedly raising the rainbow flag of the LGBT movement at a concert.
Local media reported on Tuesday that a Cairo court sentenced one of the defendants to six years in prison for "practicing debauchery".
The flag was a rare sign of support for highly marginalised homosexuals in conservative Egypt.
It took place at a Cairo performance on Friday by popular Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou' Leila, a jazzy, electro-Arabesque group whose lead singer is openly gay.
Homosexuality is highly taboo in Egypt among both majority Muslims and the Christian minority, but it is not explicitly prohibited by law.
In practice, however, the state regularly seeks to prosecute individuals under alternative charges, including "immorality" and "debauchery," which are normally reserved for prostitution.
Prosecutors also sometimes charge gay people with "blasphemy," which is also considered a crime in a country with severe limits on free speech.
Egypt regularly arrests gay men, with large police raids on parties or other locations such as bathhouses occasionally creating media sensations.
The most famous raid was in 2001, when 52 men were arrested at a dance party on a floating nightclub moored on the Nile called the Queen Boat.
The men were put on trial in a highly publicised proceeding during which they were mocked in the media, which published photos of them as well as names and addresses.
Almost half were sentenced to prison after a trial that was widely criticised by human rights groups and Western governments.