Egypt bans the media from mentioning gay people as homophobic purge continues

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Egypt’s media has been banned from mentioning the gay community as a homophobic purge continues, with an official pronouncement referring to homosexuality as a “sickness”.

A crackdown began 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.

Since the concert Egyptian authorities began a ‘purge’ targeted at the country’s gay community, raiding homes and arresting more than 60 people to date, according to sources.

In a shocking move today, the country banned the media from reporting on the issue – while imposing a Russia-style ban on LGBT people being mentioned on TV and film, as well as radio, online or print media.

(Photo by STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation issued the statement, which “prohibits the appearance of homosexuals or their slogans in the media”, branding homosexuality a “sickness”.

The order forbids any appearance of gay people “in any media outlet whether written, audio, or visual, except when they acknowledge the fact that their conduct is inappropriate and repent for it”.

A translation of the notice from Human Rights Watch reads: “The Supreme Council for Media Regulation prohibits the promotion or dissemination of homosexual slogans.

“Homosexuality is a sickness and disgrace that would be better hidden from view and not promoted for dissemination until it is treated and its disgrace removed.

“This is to preserve order and public decency and out of respect for the values and correct beliefs of society. Promotion of these slogans is also a corruption of society that should be punished.

It adds: “It is forbidden for homosexuals to appear in any media outlet whether written, audio, or visual, except when they acknowledge the fact that their conduct is inappropriate and repent for it.”

Egyptian newspapers (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images).

Makram Mohammed Ahmed, president of the council, insisted homosexuality “must be treated and removed as a sickness spreading among the youth”.

Ahmed insisted: “It is an illness that is spreading for reasons that ought to be exposed and treated, including because of the complete reliance on servants for child rearing, weak parental supervision over children’s behavior, and socializing with the wrong circles.”

The censorship chief insisted: “The media must warn of the dangers of the sickness and the reasons for its spread, not promote it by raising its slogans and dedicating to it flags and rituals.

“Nor should the media allow those who support the sickness to openly propagate this extremely dangerous evil, try to paint it with a false legitimacy, and advocate for its recognition as a human right.

“In reality, it is a blatant sin that should be rejected and resisted because it contradicts the natural order and represents an aberration from the ways of life; it is an act of deviance that ought not to be promoted.

“Homosexuality should be rejected because, by nature, it helps spread social practices that corrupt morals and causes a number of dangerous ailments, the most significant of which is HIV/AIDS.

“The media must shed light on these dangers, and discuss them in an objective, scientific framework that aims to convey the danger of the problem, not celebrate it.”

(Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The statement continues: “We ought to reinforce the notion that a male husband and a female wife form the basis of the family—about which there is no ambiguity in its meaning, structure, or correct definition—and make whole the meaning of the family by their legitimate existence.

“Anything that falls outside of this legitimate framework is a corruption of the ways and canon of the universe, an aberration from all religions and laws, and a violation of the natural order of things that must be criminalized.

“It must not gain any legal or social legitimacy through claims of modernity, progress, and development because it only brings evil, sickness, and corruption.

“The new definitions of the family introduced in some western societies cannot be introduced or tolerated among us, because they are an aberration from all monotheistic faiths and from the canon of nature and the universe, a deviation that should not be codified or afforded any legitimacy that could help it spread or grow. “

It adds: “The Supreme Council for Media Regulation calls upon all media outlets—audio, written, and visual—to stand together to preserve the correct values and to reject any change in the concept of the family. The family is the building block of society, and if the family is made well, then society, the people, and the individual are made well, too.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director at Human Rights Watch said: “Egypt should immediately halt this vicious crackdown on a vulnerable group simply for waving a flag.

“Repression will not turn gay people straight – it will only perpetuate fear and abuse.”

“There’s no possible objective or scientific reason to throw people in prison simply because of their sexuality.

“Given the mass arrests and climate of fear, truly objective reporting on this issue and giving LGBT people a voice is more important than ever.”

Homosexuality is not directly prohibited by law in the country.

However authorities are able to secure convictions under broad laws that criminalise“immorality” and “debauchery”, which are also used to target sex workers.

Related: Where is it illegal to be gay? A look at all the countries where homosexuality is against the law