The Egyptian government has conducted an intense campaign of arrests, torture and intimidation against LGBT people over the past month. Dozens of LGBT people have been arrested, and many subjected to torture in custody in the form of so-called “anal examinations”, since 22 September, when the wave of repression was launched following a gig by left-wing Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in a suburb of Cairo.
The band’s lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is openly gay and a vocal advocate of LGBT freedoms. Conservative and pro-government media outlets orchestrated a campaign of moral panic and homophobic outrage after images circulated of rainbow flags being waved at the gig. Immediately 57 people were arrested, but the campaign has not let up.
Homosexuality is technically legal in Egypt, although “public homosexual acts” are considered criminal; and LGBT people are routinely arrested under vaguer charges like “debauchery” which carry long prison sentences. Perhaps 300 LGBT people have been arrested since military-backed strongman Field Marshal el-Sisi took power in 2014.