Harshest Ever Sentences For Gay Sex In Egypt.

Men charged with alleged "gay crimes" in 2001.

Detainees during Egypt’s infamous Queen Boat case in 2001.

An Egyptian court has sentenced four men convicted of the “crime” of gay sex to a total of twenty eight years in prison, three of them receiving an eight year term and one a three year term.

To my knowledge eight years is the longest ever stretch of prison time handed down for consensual sexual acts in Egypt’s modern history and surpasses any of the sentences handed down in the notorious Queen Boat case of 2001 which brought Egypt international condemnation from across the globe including strong criticism from the then French president Jacques Chirac as well as from singer and songwriter Elton John.

The accused, like the female protesters dragged off to the Egyptian Museum by the military police in March 2011 and like the Queen boat detainees arrested under the Mubarak regime in May 2001, were forced to undergo humiliating medical tests.  In this case to “prove” (using long discredited medical techniques) that they were “habitual gays”.

The news in depressing. In the last ten years much of the world has progressed to legally  accepting gay lifestyles as having a complete equality to a heterosexual one.  But Egypt, despite recently toppling the Islamist Morsi regime, seems to have taken the opposite direction.

And the headline punishment says nothing about the real consequences for these men. Let’s not forget that they will be lucky to survive their sentences. If the treatment of gay men previously arrested is anything to go by then they will receive the most degrading and brutal abuse conceivable at the hands of prison guards and other prisoners.  Can you imagine how they will manage inside ?

Their cell mates will be drug dealers, hardened criminals, religious zealots (either Muslim or Christian) with whom they will also have to share the crowded sweltering prison vans. When the guards say “Here are prisoners who are the cause of all Egypt’s problems – khawalaat, perverts, mitnakeen” will the prison authorities care in the slightest what happens to them ?

We cannot allow their lives to be abused and lost so cheaply.

Egypt should remember that many of the tourists who visit Egypt – and on whom one in seven of the country’s jobs depends – are either lesbian, gay or have close friends who are or they will be at least sympathetic to the idea of treating the lgbt community with respect and dignity. Many will surely think twice about continuing to holiday in a country which imposes such draconian and inhumane punishments for what men chose to do in the privacy of their own homes.

GayEgypt.com recently reluctantly decided to deactivate its’ message forums in light of the recent spate of arrests in Marg and Nasr City and the consequent risk to online posters from Egypt’s infamous internet police.

This is not a promising start to Egypt’s new regime. These sentences are symptomatic of a weak and cowardly government and judiciary that lacks any sense of moral direction or principle. Instead the new “secular” government is nothing more than a front to facilitate Sisi’s procession to the presidency. The thinking behind these prosecutions being presumably that Sisi needs to prove that in the new Egypt people need not be afraid of having “Western freedoms” forced on them.

 

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Four Men Arrested in Nasr City Accused of Participating In Gay Parties.

Four men have been arrested and charged with allegedly being involved in gay sex parties inside a flat in the Medinat Nasr district of Cairo.

http://www1.youm7.com/News.asp?NewsID=1592789#.Uz2h6PmSySq

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Do watch the handsome Ahmed Hassan in “The Square”.

It’s very sad that the only Egyptian film ever to win an Oscar nomination can’t be watched at any cinema inside Egypt.  The Square is a fascinating newly released documentary looking at the events of two years of Egypt’s uprisings as seen through several young activists based in and around Tahrir Square. Of course it does simplify complex issues and of course it misses important events too, but despite all that it’s unmissable in my view. An emotive and evocative film, at times inspirational and at others depressing.

It’s easy to criticize any attempt to condense over two years of the most momentous events in Egypt’s history into just 100 minutes but the result was far better than I expected.  I’m not sure whether this Youtube copy is done with or without permission but if for any reason it’s taken off line  you can also watch it free on Netflix with a month’s trial subscription.

Oh, and regarding Ahmed Hassan – the mention of his name on this site is not intended to suggest anything about his sexuality.  I’ve really no idea nor do I care.    He captivates even more by his eloquent and powerful words than he does by his looks.   Two relatively unimportant things you might never learn from the film however are that he can speak English reasonably and he doesn’t always dress smart casual as you can see from this not so flattering photograph of him I discovered on Flickr.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ipsnews/6755323543/

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The Witch Hunt Returns – Marg Sauna Arrests.

marg01

This photo taken in 2001 of some of those arrested in the Queen Boat case arriving for court and trying to hide their faces.

On Saturday charges were brought against fourteen “suspects” into allegations that they engaged in homosexual acts. They were arrested at what media outlets described as a “medical centre” in Marg, a poor overcrowded neighbourhood in North East Cairo.

However the place might be better described as a small hammam complex situated in a narrow cul de sac – around  a fifteen minute walk west from the metro.  From memory and a quick look at Google Earth I think it’s possible that it lies just off Al Khulafa Al Rashideen street.

It was not usually very busy, with a few lockers, a small changing room and just one small traditional hammam area as well as a small shower and a couple of rest areas. The price for entry was modest – just a few Egyptian pounds.

As you would expect, there was no obvious outward indication that it was designed for gay men to meet each other – nothing mentioned on the internet and not even a discrete rainbow flag anywhere.

On the occasions I visited, some while ago, there was never any sign of any sexual activity on site although it was obviously “gay friendly” and it was easy to meet people there.

It was also regarded very much as a home for many regular gay customers who could find few places elsewhere in Cairo where they could be themselves and laugh and joke together. Presumably the police have known about the location for years but had opted for tolerance over repression – even under the Islamist Morsi regime.

But years of tolerance have now come to a sudden end. The authorities are charging the Marg fourteen with “homosexual acts” and some media reports are suggesting these took place within the centre although it’s not entirely clear whether they are alleged to have taken place inside the complex or elsewhere.

The entrance to the establishment is small and the hammam and rest areas are accessed after a corridor so it would have been difficult for a raid to have caught anyone in the act even assuming sexual activities were taking place on site – more likely the charges have just been invented.

This is possibly the reason that those detained, who vary in age between eighteen and fifty seven, now face the horror of forced “medical” examinations in order to “prove” that such acts took place.

Authorities have ordered the closure of the centre and those arrested will be detained for four days prior to their next hearings before a magistrate.  A quantity of drugs and “sexual stimulants” were allegedly found on site.

Life for the gay community in Egypt has never been easy – with most gays living in constant fear of discovery by relatives or employees – however in the last ten years there hasn’t been a high profile case of mass arrests until now.

The charges may turn out to be the largest such case since those against 52 men for alleged homosexual acts after the 2001 Queen Boat raid.

One can clearly see the motive for these arrests. The Government is yet again attempting to distract people from focusing on the real and serious issues facing the country and instead blame anyone, except itself, for Egypt’s current economic and political crisis.

It’s interesting but also depressing that the recent raid did not take place under Morsi’s Islamist presidency, but under the stewardship of the avowedly more secular minded military. However the generals are keen to stamp a fascist uniformity on society with absolutely no tolerance for “sexual deviants” who they would see as undermining Egyptian manhood.

The government may also wish to prove that it has not forgotten “Islamic values” in the hope that it might yet win over the support of Islamist groups and voters, not otherwise aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

It must be a terrifying time for those arrested. God knows what threats of exposure they are facing and who can imagine what types of humiliating torture they may have to endure while they remain in custody.

How will Western governments and human rights organizations inside and outside Egypt react to this if the charges are pressed and the men convicted and sentenced ?   We can only hope that Egyptian human rights activists as well as those outside Egypt, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, will take up this case strongly.

 

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A NATIONAL KISSING DAY COMES TO EGYPT.

Can you believe it ?  Egypt will have a National Kissing Day on Friday 30th August.  Cairo and Alexandria each have several hundred confirmed as attending as does the small Delta town of Zagazig !

If this event continues to gather momentum and publicity,  it will be hugely revolutionary in Egypt’s deeply conservative society.

The Facebook page which dreamt up this event can be found at

https://www.facebook.com/events/503250069758972/?fref=ts

I don’t know who created the page but it is quickly becoming a self-fulfilling rumour and in the last hours the story has  gone viral.

I have little doubt how Egypt’s Ancien Regime, including the military and its’ white haired technocrat government, will react to this.  While public displays of affection might be tolerated between foreigners on a quiet beach in Dahab or El Gouna, they will be regarded as hugely subversive in Egypt’s cities.

gaykiss33

The Muslim Brotherhood bigots might have fallen from power but Egypt’s establishment is not ready to indulge such a provocative display of sexual freedom.

If this movement really takes off it will be denounced by the major political factions (certainly by the Muslim Brotherhood) and also the government and there is a danger some participants might become the victims of violence or even face the courts and severe prison sentences.

However it is nevertheless a radical, commendable and brave initiative to spread peace and love in a fun and revolutionary way and I just hope enough people participate to ensure their own safety.

I think it would be premature and irresponsible for anyone to call on lesbians and gays to openly join such a demonstration due to the risk of possible attack – unless there’s a sufficiently large crowd of very broad-minded kissers to guarantee their safety. This could really only be determined on the day.

One thing is for sure though – looking at those going to attend on the Facebook page – there are about nineteen men for every woman signed up which means eighteen of the nineteen men will either have to give it a go or go without !

But I would still recommend extreme caution even if the prospect of a crowd of handsome young men desperately short of available women and out to kiss their immediate neighbour is wildly arousing.

But if you are a gay man why not hang around and if you see there is a sufficiently large crowd of young guys you might end up “forced” to kiss some Romeo. And it will be a day to go down in history. The more passionate part of me (political and romantic) is asking “Can anyone afford to miss it ?”

Picture: Here’s one we did earlier !

gaykiss2

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CNN – Please Take Care Before Using The C Word.

President Obama is now saying “We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi”….. CNN and western media are calling it a coup but this wasn’t a decision of a few generals but took place only thanks to 25 million people who took to the streets. When in 2000 the Supreme Court in the United States announced Bush had won the elections even though Gore had won the popular vote – that’s what CNN should have called a coup.

Of course many Egyptians are worried about what will now happen and about how this second period of transition will be managed but please CNN take care before deciding to label this second revolution “a coup.”

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/04/world/meast/egypt-coup/index.html

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Celebrating Morsi’s Fall But……………

I think many gay Egyptians will be celebrating Morsi’s fall tonight – most will agree that his presidency was a disaster for Egypt and that he only has himself to blame for his unpopularity – but starting tomorrow hopefully there will be close scrutiny of the transitional process – While it might be tempting for example to applaud the closure of Islamist TV stations, this move will drive the Muslim Brotherhood underground, infuriate what is now the Islamist opposition and eventually either enhance their popularity or drive the movement towards supporting violent struggle. Hopefully this restriction on media freedom will only be temporary and hopefully the army won’t make the same mistakes as during the last period of transition.

On the positive side Morsi’s fall gives new hope that a constitution representing all Egyptians can be created and that the revolution of 2011 can now be built on.

11.59PM And now comes news that Al Jazeera’s offices have been raided by security forces and staff arrested. Why ? This really is a surprise. Their coverage of recent events appeared to be reasonably balanced. They had at least one reporter who seemed occasionally to be sympathetic to the Brotherhood but they had others who seemed to be very enthusiastic in covering the anti-Morsi protests. I’m sure other people will find this worrying too.

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