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Egypt’s Escalating War on Gays Just Landed 6 Men Behind Bars for 2 Years

Egyptian gay activist protesting against the arrest of young men who appeared in the alleged gay marriage video, tweets @TheBigPharaoh

Egyptian gay activist protesting against the arrest of young men who appeared in the alleged gay marriage video, tweets @TheBigPharaoh

Six men accused of “committing debauchery” have been sentenced to two years in prison by an Egyptian court today. The men, who included a Moroccan national, were accused of using their apartment for homosexual activities, promoted through Facebook, reported AhramOnline.

The six were among eight men arrested last month after a video featuring what looked like a gay wedding went viral. While Egypt doesn't have a specific law to prosecute same-sex relationships, the government has been vicious in its crackdown on gays under vague laws such as committing “indecency” and “debauchery.”

According to Human Rights First, Egyptian police have arrested more than than 80 people for the “crime” of being gay/transgender since October 2013.

Many Egyptians took to social media to express their anger at the targeting of gay people and this most recent sentence. Under the the hashtag #stopjailinggays and its Arabic translation #ضد_حبس_المثليين, hundreds of people expressed their anger as part of a two-day Twitter and blogging storm to protest “the massive wave of brutal repression of LGBT people.”

The event's Facebook page states:

Since the Egyptian government is recently focusing its efforts on monitoring people's private lives whether in the bedroom or on their facebook accounts, and since the police instead of chasing terrorists are going after people for their sexual orientation and gender identity. From October 2013 until now, the police has arrested more than 80 people for the “crime” of being gay or transgender. Some of these people receive humiliating treatment including physical violence and rape threats inside detention.

The forensic medicine authority conducts anal examinations on these people which is considered sexual assault and a violation of human rights and medical ethics.

They are sentenced for up to 10 years with charges of debauchery which is a vague word.

Because the media has been waging a sensational campaign against LGBT people in Egypt and violate people's privacy by publishing their names and photos.

because of all of this, on September 24 and 25 we will be tweeting and blogging using the hashtag
#ضد_حبس_المثليين which means Against the Jailing of Gays

On that Facebook page, Tamer Adel explains the social stigma of being gay in Egypt. He writes:

كان نفسي أكتب البوست ده من اﻷكونت التاني بتاعي
اللي عليه أهلي وأصحابي .. بس عشان زيي زي باقي المصريين بخاف هكتبه من اﻷكونت ده
بخاف ؟ اه بخاف … بخاف على أمي اللي ممكن تروح فيها لما تعرف انها مش هتشوف ابن ليا زي باقي اخواتي
بخاف على أختى عشان مكسفاش وسط أهل جوزها واختى اللي لسة صغير عشان حد يرضى يتقدملها
بخاف على أخويا اللي هيعتبرها فضيحة ليه .. وبخاف على صحابي اللي هنزل من نظرهم
وسط كل البؤس ده مش فاكر اني في كلية هندسة .. واني ليا ترتيب على دفعتي
مش فاكر اني قدمت مشروع للحكومة لتطوير شئ معين هيوفر وقت ومجهود وهيجيب ربح
مش فاكر اني كنت متقدم ﻹختبار منحة من جامعة كندية ورفضت اسافر ﻷسباب احتكار أفكاري للبلد دي
مش فاكر اني بتوصف بمساعدة الناس والعبقرية
مش فاكر اني كان ليا موقف اني صححت معلومات لمعيد ودكتور عندي في الجامعة
..اللي عاوز أقوله ان كل الناس اللي تعرفني كلهم بشهادتهم بيعتبروني قدوة ومثل اعلى
لكن لو تخيلنا انهم عرفوا اني مثلي اكيد هتتغير نظرتهم ليا تماما
انا هو هو نفس الشخص على فكرة … ياريت تبصوا على اﻹختلاف ده زي اتنين بيشجعوا فريقين مختلفين
احنا مش فاسدين ولا منحلين أخلاقيا
احنا أعضاء فعالين جدا في المجتمع ومؤثرين
احنا مختارناش نكون فئة منبوذة ومطاردة وبيترصدوا لينا بدرجات توصل للمطالبة بالقتل
ولو يا سيدي عندك علاج ليا اكتبهولي دلوقتي وانا انزل اصرفه من الصيدلية حالا
‫#‏ضد_حبس_المثليين‬

I had wanted to write this post on my other account, the one which has my family and friends, but just like other Egyptians I am afraid of doing that and will post it here instead.
Afraid? Yes. I am afraid for my mother who could die if she knew that she will not see my children, like my other siblings.
I am afraid of embarrassing my sister in front of her in-laws, and my younger sister, who may not find anyone to marry her
I am afraid for my brother, who will consider it a scandal. And afraid for my friends, who will look down at me.
In the midst of all this misery, I don't remember that I am at the College of Engineering. I don't remember being a successful student. I don't remember submitting a project to the government to develop something which would save time and effort and generate a profit.
I don't remember being accepted for a scholarship in a Canadian University, which I turned down, so that I can remain home and serve my country.
I don't remember that people describe me as helpful and a genius.
I don't remember that I correct mistakes my professors and teachers make.
What I am trying to say is that all those people consider me a role-model but if we imagined that they knew that I am gay, their view will definitely change.
I am the same person. I hope you would view this difference like two people cheering for two different football teams.
We are not corrupt or morally decayed.
We are effective people in our society.
We did not choose to become an unwanted and persecuted segment of society, with people calling for us to be killed.
If you have a treatment for me, write me a prescription, and I am willing to go to the pharmacy immediately to get it

On Twitter, Sara Labib lashes out at the government, which should scrutinise it's own shortcomings instead:

Sherif El Ramly notes:

And The Big Pharaoh shares this photograph of a gay activist who carries a placard stating his name and position against the jailing of the young men.

The placard [ar] reads:

I am Asem El-Tawodi. I am not a criminal or ill. I am gay. I am an Egyptian citizen. [I am] someone normal in society. Just like you.

Such open support for gays in conservative Arab societies is new.

Our work building bridges across cultures, languages and perspectives is more urgent than ever before.

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