Main | Wednesday, April 15, 2015

EGYPT: Court Bans Foreign Gays

An Egyptian court yesterday ruled that the government has the right to deport foreigners accused of homosexuality and ban them from returning. J. Lester Feder reports at Buzzfeed:
According to a judgement obtained by BuzzFeed News, the case has its roots in the 2008 arrest of a Libyan man who police alleged to be gay in their report. While the court documents leave unclear precisely what he was arrested for — or what charges were brought against the man, who remains anonymous in the judgement — as with many foreign nationals who are arrested in Egypt, the Egyptian government deported him based on this arrest and barred him from reentering the country. He sued to be allowed to return so that he could complete graduate studies at the Arabic Academy for Maritime Transport, arguing that the interior minister did not have the power to block him from the country.

Judge Yahia Dakrory, who issued the ruling, rejected this argument, and said that the interior ministry lawfully used its power to protect “the general benefits, religious values, social morals of society and to prevent the spreading of social ills,” according to the ruling. The ruling comes amidst an ongoing crackdown on LGBT rights by the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, but the case decided on Tuesday was filed well before he took power with help of the military in 2013. It is not immediately clear whether this ruling will have implications beyond this case. It comes following a series of high-profile trials of people on “debauchery” charges accused of homosexuality, which a government official told BuzzFeed News in September was part of an effort by the Sisi government to neutralize attacks by the Muslim Brotherhood on the regime’s secular nature.
More from Daily News Egypt:
Although homosexuality is not against the law, it is strongly disapproved of and the courts typically prosecute on charges of debauchery or undermining public morality as substitute charges. With the Ministry of Interior behind banning and deporting foreign homosexuals, it is unclear how such a strategy could be practically implemented. Daily News Egypt spoke to a young foreign gay man who has lived in Cairo for a year and a half. “In Cairo, the way I live my life it’s not such a big deal, but I generally don’t mention it to people. In the US everyone knew I was gay it was not an issue. Here I wait a lot longer before telling people, there are a lot more things that can go wrong and there’s always a vague sense of paranoia that some trouble might happen during the day.”

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