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Egypt Has Arrested At Least 33 People in Two Weeks For Being Gay

AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha

“The scale of the latest arrests highlights how dangerously entrenched homophobia is within the country."

Egypt has arrested at least 32 men and one woman for being gay since September 25, after a rainbow flag was displayed as a Mashrou' Leila concert in Cairo, Amnesty International reports. "Anal examinations" have been invoked upon at least five of those detained.

"Forced anal examinations are tantamount to torture--there is no scientific basis for such tests and they cannot be justified under any circumstances," said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International. "The scale of the latest arrests highlights how dangerously entrenched homophobia is within the country. Instead of stepping up arrests and carrying out anal examinations, the authorities must urgently halt this ruthless crackdown and release all those arrested immediately and unconditionally."

All arrested individuals are under interrogation by Egyptian officials and seeing their trials in court expedited. One 19-year-old man has already been sentenced to six years in prison and six years probation.

Arrests have been made through online dating apps, on grounds of "sexual deviancy" and "habitual debauchery." The successive arrests mark the worst crackdown on the homosexual community in Egypt since 2001, when 52 were arrested aboard the Queen Boat nightclub on the Nile.

The Egyptian authorities' announcement that they are investigating the rainbow flag incident as a criminal act is utterly absurd. No one should be punished for expressing solidarity with LGBTI individuals or based on their perceived sexual orientation," Najia continued.

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