31 countries demand the end of criminalization of civil society and LGBTIQ+ movement in Egypt!
We, ANKH Association and The Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organizations welcome the joint declaration made under Agenda Item 4, condemning the widespread and systematic human rights violations carried out by the Egyptian government - and we deem this declaration to be the beginning of a long-overdue process to ensure strong and consistent attention of the Council on the human rights crisis in Egypt.
The Ambassador of Finland to the UN in Geneva is expected to deliver a joint declaration on behalf of 31 countries, urging Egypt to end its crackdown on human rights defenders, civil society activists, LGBTIQ+ people, journalists, political opponents, lawyers, and peaceful critics under the guise of counter-terrorism.
Indeed, the situation of the LGBTIQ+ community has considerably worsened in Egypt in the last 5 years. The annual number of people arrested and referred to trial has increased five-fold. 75 people were arrested by the Egyptian police forces after a rainbow flag was raised in Mashrou' Leila concert in New Cairo in September 2017. 71 of which were heard in first and second instance courts in 2018. Most defendants in these cases were sentenced to one to three years in prison, and some had to leave the country.
In 2020 alone, more than 25 people were arrested in a systematic crackdown based on their real or photographed sexual orientation.
The Egyptian laws do not explicitly criminalize consensual sexual relations between people of the same gender and consensual sexual acts between adults, but there are several provisions that criminalize behaviors and expressions deemed to be immoral, scandalous, or offensive to the teachings of recognized religions.
Law 10/1961 on combating prostitution is largely used by the Egyptian authorities, particularly Article 9(c), to charge those suspected of having same-sex relations with "the habitual practice of debauchery."
Thus, the existing legal framework and policies are inadequate to protect the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people and to create barriers to access appeal and justice. Moreover, LGBTIQ+ people and related activities are vulnerable to complaints, police reports, monitoring, and surveillance.
Earlier this year, more than 100 NGOs from around the world wrote to UN member states, warning that the Egyptian government is attempting to annihilate human rights organizations and eradicate the human rights movement in the country through sustained, widespread and systematic attacks.
Such attacks on LGBTIQ+ activities have occurred as “an increasingly brutal crackdown on human rights defenders and civil and political rights more broadly,” and were often carried out under the guise of “counter-terrorism.” It also happened with the LGBTIQ+ activist Malak El-Kashef.
The message today to the Egyptian government is clear: you will no longer be given carte blanche to imprison, torture, and murder LGBTIQ+ people and defenders.
Going forward, we urge the Council and its members to demand Egypt to :
- immediately and unconditionally release all those detained on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation;
- drop all charges against them, and quash the sentences of those already convicted;
- end forced anal examinations on detainees - which are generally used to investigate charges related to real or perceived sexual orientation - as they amount to torture and other ill-treatment;
- order a prompt, impartial, and effective investigation into the examinations that have already taken place;
- end the criminalization and facilitate the activities of civil society organizations working towards gender equality and in support of the LGBTIQ+ community;
- allocate places of detention for transgender people that are compatible with their gender identity.