Egypt escalates homophobic purge as 33 people ‘arrested for being gay’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Fears of a homophobic purge have been confirmed in Egypt after dozens of arrests targeting the LGBT community.

A number of arrests were made in Egypt last month after a rainbow flag was waved at a concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou Leila, whose lead singer is openly gay.

However the incident has sparked a wider crackdown – and there have been reports that Egyptian authorities have begun actively targeting the gay community, implementing a harsh crackdown.

Mashrou' Leila
A picture taken of the band on the night of the gig (Photo by مشروع ليلى Mashrou’ Leila/Facebook)

Amnesty International said today that Egyptian authorities have arrested 22 people over the past three days alone, stepping up a campaign of persecution.

The total number of arrests based on perceived sexual orientation now stands at 33 (32 men and one woman) over the past week.

The Forensic Medical Authority has carried out anal examinations on at least five of those arrested.

Though the crackdown has largely targeted gay men, one woman was detained by authorities on suspicion of “promoting sexual deviancy” and “habitual debauchery” for waving the rainbow flag.

It is believed to be the first such incident involving a woman in several years.

Egyptian-born gay activist Omar Sharif Jr., the grandson of Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, spoke to PinkNews about the purge.

He told PinkNews: “I am angry and disheartened by the arrests of fellow Egyptians over the past few days.

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