Egyptian authorities crack down on LGBTs

  • by Heather Cassell
  • Wednesday October 16, 2013
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An estimated 14 men, along with an unknown number of health club employees, were arrested in a working class neighborhood health center in Cairo last week for allegedly "practicing homosexuality."

The men were "caught, in positions that are against religious precepts," during a police raid, reported the State-run Akhbar el-Youm newspaper, which was translated and referenced by the International Business Times .

Various illegal pills and stimulants were found in the men's possession, according to multiple reports.

The paper reported that the center profited from the alleged gay men for payments of $7- $28 per encounter, reported BuzzFeed.

The raid happened after confirmed reports of "immoral acts" were occurring between men at the health center, according to multiple reports.

An Egyptian prosecutor ordered the men to be held for four days for "intrusive medical tests and forensic reports" to determine if they had or had not engaged in "indecent acts" on Saturday, according to multiple reports.

The prosecutor also ordered the premises should be shut down, reported Gay Star News.

Homosexuality isn't illegal in Egypt, but gay men are often persecuted under a "debauchery" law, reported the Advocate , citing an Amnesty International 2010 report.

"They are already guilty, no matter what the doctor finds on their bodies," said Abu Salim, an Egyptian gay man who spoke with BuzzFeed using an alias. "For men like them, there will be no sympathy."

Salim told the media outlet that the Egyptian LGBT community is feeling that it's increasingly under attack. There have been warnings of police planning to target the LGBT center.

According to reports, conditions in the Northern African country have worsened for Egypt's LGBT community after the Arab Spring and the uprising three years ago that replaced then-President Muhammad Hosni El Sayed Mubarak with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Since then, laws and conditions against homosexuality have been stricter than under Mubarak's regime, which launched a crackdown on "homosexual conduct" where thousands of people were arrested and tortured between 2001 and 2004, reported BuzzFeed.

The Brotherhood preached against homosexuality and publicly announced that "gay men are not real people," reported the media outlet.


Moldova overturns anti-gay propaganda law

Seeking to join the European Union, Moldovan officials overturned the country's new anti-gay propaganda law October 11.

The anti-gay law was overturned by a narrow margin, according to media reports, but the vote wasn't disclosed.

Experts believe that the Eastern European country has its eyes set on joining the European Union. They believe the country's leaders are hoping the move will grant them an offer of an EU Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania next month, according to multiple media reports.

Similar to Russian law, Moldova's ban made it illegal to promote "relationships other than those linked to marriage and family."

Repeal of the ban is a sign that the former Soviet nation is making political moves to distance itself from Russia.

Demonstrators that supported the law protested outside parliament as lawmakers voted.

"Today they are allowing this propaganda and tomorrow they will allow gay marriages," said Orthodox priest Ghenadie Valuta, reported Agence France-Presse.

LGBT European leaders praised Moldovan officials for repealing the law.

"Moldovan parliamentarians made a right decision to abolish a law which is discriminatory and contradicts their country's international human rights commitments and aspirations for European integration," said Evelyne Paradis, executive director of the International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe.

Members of the European Parliament also praised Moldovan leaders for their actions.

"I'm very happy to hear that Moldovan Parliament repealed this law," said Marije Cornelissen MEP, member of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, in an EU news release October 15. "It is a clear sign that the Moldovan Parliament saw reason and opted for human rights and the rule of law."


Russian Coming Out Day protest ends in violence

St. Petersburg police broke up a mob of about 200 conservative and religious activists that attacked a peaceful march by LGBTs observing Coming Out Day on October 12.

The demonstration turned violent after an anti-gay protester reportedly tore a rainbow flag out of a woman's hands, reported the Associated Press.

Police stood by until the clash between the two groups turned violent in the center of the city at Field of Mars.

Authorities then arrested a reported 67 demonstrators from both sides, AP reported.

The afternoon rally was sanctioned by the local government, in spite of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law.


Russian judge dismisses 'foreign agent' law

St. Petersburg's Side by Side LGBT Film Festival won a major victory when a judge dismissed Russia's "foreign agent" law October 9.

The judge said that authorities investigating the organization violated procedure and incorrectly applied the laws, reported Gay Star News.

"The Magistrates Court had incorrectly applied the procedural provisions of the administrative code and, in the case of the district court, the judge overlooked these significant violations of procedural requirements," said Mikhail Pavlyuchenko, deputy chairman of the St. Petersburg City Court.

The festival has been under investigation since March for allegedly refusing to register under the Kremlin's new law requiring organizations that receive funding from abroad to register as foreign agents.

The festival was fined an estimated $15,400, which was reduced to $12,300. The recent ruling annulled the fine, reported GSN.

Representatives of the festival released a statement expressing their gratitude for the judge's decision, the work by their attorneys, Dmitry Bartenev and Sergey Golubok, and the organization's supporters.

"We are pleased with the decision and finally justice has been done," the organizers said in the festival's news release.

The festival's troubles aren't over yet.

The heads of the festival still are fending off a case against them that is currently being appealed after a guilty verdict. The organizers were fined $9,260. This case is anticipated to be heard sometime later this month or early November, reported GSN.


Got international LGBT news tips? Call or send them to Heather Cassell at 00+1-415-221-3541, Skype: heather.cassell, or email [email protected].