LGBT rights in Egypt are colored by the fact that the very existence of homosexuality is barely acknowledged by the country's ruling administration. Homosexual acts are thus covered by general legislation governing public morality. In the 21st century, this legislation has been subject to stricter interpretation, and consequentially homosexual men live under continual threat of persecution and imprisonment.

Penal code Edit

Homosexuality is not de jure illegal in Egypt. However, in the early part of the twenty-first century, homosexuality started to become de facto illegal under a the wide scope of interpreting various articles of the Egyptian Penal Code and other regulations of Egyptian Public Policy related to the safeguard of Public Order & Public Morals". Such practices were an evolution of the controversial practice used by Egyptian Security to quell youth rebellion and lewd expression of individuality in the mid nineties under the banner of Satanism, official charges ranged from "offenses against public morals and sensitivities" to "violating the teachings of religion and propagating depraved ideas and moral depravity."

In 2000, the police arrested two men after public outrage over news reports that they had formalized a same-sex marital contract.[1] In May of 2001, the police raided a Cairo boat party, detaining sixty men before letting the foreigners go. The remaining fifty-two men — the "Cairo 52" — were arrested and tried on vaguely worded laws such as "violating the teachings of religion", "propagating depraved ideas", "contempt of religion" and "moral depravity." due to logistical purposes, a copy of the Egyptian Penal Code is not easily attainable by foreign persons of interest, or interest groups who cannot read Arabic, the Human Rights Watch has translated and published portions of the penal code online.[2]

The Cairo 52 were defended by international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. However, they had no organized internal support, plead innocent, and were tried under the state security courts Members of the German parliament and the French President called upon the Egyptian government to respect the human rights of its LGBT citizens.[3][4] Twenty-three of the defendants were sentenced to prison with hard labor, while the others were acquitted.[5] More men have been arrested in various raids on homosexuals, although foreigners tend to be released quickly.

In many recent situations, the men are being arrested for meeting or attempting to meet other adult men through various Internet chatrooms and message boards. This was the case on June 20, 2003, when an Israeli tourist in Egypt was jailed for homosexuality, for about fifteen days before he was eventually released and allowed to return to Israel.[6]

On September 24, 2003, police set up checkpoints at both sides of the Qasr el-Nil bridge, which spans the Nile in downtown Cairo and is a popular place for adult men to meet other men for sex, arrested 62 men for homosexuality.[7]

As of 2007, crackdown continues[citation needed]. In 2004 a seventeen-year-old private university student received a 17 years sentence in prison including 2 years hard labor, for posting a personal profile on a gay dating site.[8]

The Egyptian government's response to the international criticism was either to deny that they were persecuting LGBT people[9] or to defend their policies by stating that homosexuality is a moral perversion.[10]

Civil rights Edit

No protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity exist. Egyptian human rights organizations are fearful of defending such an unpopular class of people as sexual minorities.[11] Egyptian politicians either call for the execution of homosexuals or their relocation into prisons and mental institutions until they are reformed. Efforts in the late 1990s to register a gay rights organization designed to stop the spread of AIDS-HIV never received support.

Until 2001, the Egyptian government refused to recognize the existence of homosexuality,[12] and now does so only to brush off criticism from human rights organizations and foreign politicians.

Family law Edit

Egyptian Law only recognizes a marriage between a man and a woman. same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are all prohibited by law. Reports suggest that if such a relationship becomes public, the police may use it as evidence in a criminal indictment for the various laws against immorality.

LGBT community Edit

Most Egyptians see homosexuality and transgenderism as forbidden and detestable acts, even before the Egyptian government started using the national security courts and various laws against indecency and immorality to arrest groups of LGBT people at nightclubs, private events, and in online chatrooms. Most LGBT native Egyptians and foreigners live in the closet, and any gathering of LGBT people is entirely underground.


In 1996 the Health Ministry set up a national AIDS hotline. A 1999 "Egypt Today" cover story dealt with the AIDS-HIV pandemic in Egypt and the fact that it commonly seen as something caused by foreigners, homosexuals, or drug users. The article also mentioned that there was talk of a LGBT organization being created to target the Egyptian LGBT community, and while a same-sex safer sex brochure was published, the organization was never created[13] and ignorance about the pandemic is common.

In 2005 the Egyptian government started to allow for confidential HIV testing, although most people fear that being tested positive will result in being labelled as a homosexual and thus a de facto criminal. Some Egyptians have access to home test kits brought back from America, but most Egyptians lack accurate information about the pandemic and quality care if they do become infected.[14]

References Edit

  1. Gay Marriage Results in Prosecution
  2. In a Time of Torture: The Assault on Justice In Egypt’s Crackdown on Homosexual Conduct: APPENDIX: Laws Affecting Male Homosexual Conduct in Egypt
  3. German MPs Want Egypt to End Trial of Homosexuals
  4. French President Worried About Fate Of Egyptian Gays
  5. Egypt Sentences 23 of 52 Suspected Gays
  6. New Page 1
  7. News & Politics
  8. GME gay middle east - the biggest web-site for gays in the middle east (15 countries) :gay egypt,gay lebanon,gay israel,gay qatar, gay jordan, gay kuwait, gay oman, gay emirates, gay saudi arabia, gay palestine and more
  9. Egypt Spars With US Congressmen Over Gay Arrests
  10. Egypt Officially Brands Homosexuality ‘Perverted’
  11. Egypt’s “Human Rights” Groups
  12. BBC NEWS | Programs | Crossing Continents |Egypt crackdown on homosexuals
  13. Gay Marriage Results in Prosecution
  14. Egypt’s Fearful Gays Shy from HIV Testing

External links Edit

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