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Egypt refuses to recognize LGBT people in UN human rights review

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Egypt refuses to recognize LGBT people in UN human rights review

While Egypt isn’t exactly known for being a safe place for LGBT people, its government has reiterated its hardline stance by refusing to recognize them before the United Nations.

In the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council, the Egyptian government rejected the council’s recommendations to end arrests and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

What’s more, the Egyptian government said it “does not recognize the terms mentioned in this recommendation,” in effect denying the existence of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Egypt refuses to LGBT rights

While Egypt said during the same review that it “upholds human rights without discrimination,” President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government has been waging a campaign of arrests and prosecution since 2013.

This campaign has targeted people for their perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity.

The 2019 report of the Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organizations (AQEO) looked at the crackdown of the Egyptian government against LGBT people in the last four years.

This crackdown includes violent assaults, torture like forced anal exams, arbitrary detention, and the denial of the rights to assembly and expression.

It also involves discrimination in accessing healthcare, education, employment, and housing.

Ironically, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights– which Egypt is a member– also calls on its states to protect sexual and gender minorities in accordance with the African Charter.

Status of LGBT people in Egypt

While there’s no explicit law against homosexuality or same-sex intimacy in Egypt, there are provisions or laws that target particular behaviors.

According to the Legal Aid Project, in Egypt, “In most trials, Law 10/1961 on combating prostitution is used, particularly Article 9(c).”

“The main charges used in trials based on this law are debauchery, which it refers to habitual practice of debauchery, publicizing an invitation to induce debauchery, and incitement to debauchery,” they said.

“Although homosexuality is not considered a crime per se in Egypt, it is de facto illegal under Law 10/1961 on combating prostitution,” the group added.

“Allies who support to the queer movement in Egypt can also be charged under the provisions of this law,” they further said.

Egypt cracks down on LGBT people

In 2019, through the Legal Aid Project, the Bedayaa LGBT rights group reported 92 arrests for alleged same-sex conduct under Egypt’s “debauchery” law.

Of this number, 69 percent of those arrested were “picked up randomly on the street.” Majority of the cases had defendants cleared in court.

In their report, it said: “In these situations, there is no legal basis for the arrest other than the individual discretion of the police officers.”

“Most of the police reports in this type of case are written in an almost identical way, further demonstrating the falsified, arbitrary nature of the arrest and subsequent detention,” the report noted.

According to Bedayaa’s Legal Aid Project, more people were arrested last year as compared to 2018 in relation to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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