Egypt bill looks to criminalise homosexuality

Cairo, Cairo Governorate, EgyptUpdated: Nov 09, 2017, 02:46 AM IST
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File photo of Egyptian Police. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons) Photograph:(Others)

Amnesty International on Thursday condemned a draft bill in the Egyptian parliament that would criminalise homosexuality, in what the rights group called an "unprecedented homophobic crackdown".

The bill lays jail terms of between one and three years for first-time offenders, whether the act takes place in public or a private place. Repeat offenders would receive five years.

"This deeply discriminatory bill would be a huge setback for human rights and another nail in the coffin for sexual rights in Egypt," said Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty.

Amnesty said that "for more than a month now the Egyptian authorities have waged a vicious crackdown targeting LGBTI people in the country."

Despite homosexuality not yet being illegal in the North African country, the number of arrests of suspects has been mounting.

The crackdown comes after an open-air concert in Cairo on September 22 by Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila, when the flag representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community was raised.

Thirty-one people have been arrested since the concert, 10 directly linked with the event, according to judicial and security officials.

Amnesty said the number was more than 70 people, some of whom had been subjected to anal examinations.

On November 19, a Cairo court is to rule on 17 defendants held on charges of "sexual debauchery", the official term often used in Egypt for homosexuality.