Six men arrested for “promoting sexual deviancy” and “debauchery” will be subjected to invasive forensic anal examinations said Amnesty International, ahead of their trial tomorrow on Sunday 1 October. The arrests, on the evening of 27 September, came shortly after Egypt’s chief prosecutor announced an investigation in response to a public backlash against a recent concert in Cairo by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Laila where members of the crowd raised a rainbow flag.
The Forensic Medical Authority is due to subject the six men to anal examinations to determine whether they have engaged in same sex sexual relations. Amnesty International believes that such examinations violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law.
“The fact that Egypt’s Public Prosecutor is prioritizing hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable. These men should be released immediately and unconditionally – not put on trial,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.
“Forced anal examinations are abhorrent and amount to torture. The Egyptian authorities have an appalling track record of using invasive physical tests which amount to torture against detainees in their custody. All plans to carry out such tests on these men must be stopped immediately.”
In the days following the Mashrou’ Leila concert on 22 September, there have been reports of a sweeping crackdown by Egyptian authorities against people the police perceive to be engaging in same-sex sexual activity. The concert provoked a smear campaign by national media which called for the men involved in displaying the rainbow flag to be punished.
On 25 September, Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadiq ordered the State Security prosecution to investigate the “incident” of the Mashrou’ Leila concert which “incited homosexuality” and where symbols “inciting such acts” were displayed.
A day after the concert a 19-year-old man was arrested on charges of “debauchery”. He was sentenced this week to six years in prison, followed by six years of probation.
Two other men who were arrested earlier this week and are currently detained in Agouza police station in Cairo are due to stand trial on 11 October. Another two men were arrested on 28 September and are detained in Dokki police station.
“A sinister smear campaign by Egyptian media against those believed to have raised the rainbow flag at the Mashrou’ Leila concert, has given security forces a green light to carry out arrests of at least 11 people based on their alleged sexual orientation,” said Najia Bounaim.
All the men arrested are being investigated by prosecutors in Cairo and are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, including anal examinations, by the Forensic Medical Authority.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights estimates that more than 250 men have been prosecuted for their perceived sexual orientation since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power.
Anal examinations violate the UN Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The UN Committee against Torture has emphasized that they “have no medical justification and cannot be consented to fully.”