At least five foreign nationals accused of LGBT identity have been deported from Egypt since December, with four cases occurring within the past two months, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights’ (EIPR) research.
In April, Egypt’s Administrative Court ruled to uphold the December deportation of a Libyan man on allegations that the individual was homosexual. The court ruling was interpreted by rights groups as setting a legal precedent, giving the Ministry of Interior the power to deport and ban homosexual foreigners from Egypt.
Although not explicitly illegal under Egyptian law, individuals suspected of homosexuality are commonly prosecuted on charges of debauchery or undermining public morality.
According to Dalia Abdel Hameed, head of EIPR’s Gender Studies Programme, the Administrative Court’s ruling was “catastrophic”, as it grants the Ministry of Interior the right to act “above the law” and legal process.
Since April’s ruling, Abdel Hameed’s research has identified four cases of foreign nationals, either living or on holiday in Egypt, who have been arrested and deported within the past two months. All of those involved in the cases were given no fair access to judicial process, she told Daily News Egypt.
In one case, which occurred in the first week of August, a European citizen was arrested while holidaying in Marsa Matrouh. He was taken to a local police station where he was continuously questioned about his sexuality, but was not formally given any reason for his detention.
Whilst in custody, he was denied access to a telephone with which to call his embassy, but was made to speak by telephone to someone who he was told was an embassy representative. The ‘representative’ allegedly spoke to him in English with an Arabic accent, and became aggressive during the phone call.
The man, who has reported he does not know why he was identified or how he was reported, was taken to Cairo International Airport with detained African men, and made to purchase a ticket to leave. He also mentioned that he thought there was a business element to his final treatment, as the tickets they were made to buy were more expensive than the market price.
In another case, a man was entrapped by security forces who had set-up a false social networking profile, posing as a homosexual, through which the pair arranged to meet. The man had his case heard by the prosecution and was acquitted of debauchery charges, but he said he faced “immense pressure” to leave. He reported that his case was handled by the information-gathering and counter-terrorism Homeland Security agency.
The cases come at a time of increased attacks on alleged homosexuals or LGBT in Egypt, in particular by the Ministry of Interior and domestic media. The actions also signal the role that the state has taken in upholding society’s morality, according to Hameed.
In January, a Cairo court acquitted 26 defendants accused of homosexual activities in a bath house. The case drew international criticism for the televised police sting on the men. One of the men later set himself on fire despite the acquittal, owing to what he said was intense social attacks on him. In December, eight men were given one-year prison sentences for allegedly taking part in a gay marriage ceremony on a Nile boat.