More than 30 people have been arrested in Egypt in the country’s biggest crackdown on homosexuality in six years.
Some of those arrested have faced invasive forced examinations “tantamount to torture”.
The authorities have detained 22 people in the past three days, bringing the total to 33 arrested in just over a week.
The “persecution” was sparked when someone unfurled a LGBT rainbow flag at a music concert on September 23 – provoking public outcry.
Amnesty International said Egypt’s Forensic Medical Authority carried out forced anal examinations on at least five of those arrested.
“In a matter of days the Egyptian security forces have rounded up dozens of people and carried out five anal examinations signalling a sharp escalation in the authorities’ efforts to persecute and intimidate members of the LGBTI community following the rainbow flag incident,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.
“Forced anal examinations are tantamount to torture – there is no scientific basis for such tests and they cannot be justified under any circumstances.
“The scale of the latest arrests highlights how dangerously entrenched homophobia is within the country.
“Instead of stepping up arrests and carrying out anal examinations, the authorities must urgently halt this ruthless crackdown and release all those arrested immediately and unconditionally.”
The rainbow flag at the Mashrou’ Leila gig was met with fury by local media and, two days later, the Public Prosecutor announced it was investigating.
Since then, 33 people have been detained and face prosecutor interrogations and trial. Some of them have been charged with “debauchery” and others with “promoting sexual deviancy”.
One 19-year-old has been sentenced to six years in prison, followed by six years of probation.
“The Egyptian authorities’ announcement that they are investigating the rainbow flag incident as a criminal act is utterly absurd,” Ms Bounaim said.
“No one should be punished for expressing solidarity with LGBTI individuals or based on their perceived sexual orientation.
“This is the worst crackdown against people based on their perceived sexual orientation since the mass arrests of 52 people following a raid on the Queen Boat, a floating nightclub on the Nile, in 2001.”
Amnesty International called on authorities to release those detained and halt plans to carry out further examinations, arguing they “violate the prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment under international law”.
Source : evening standard