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Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Egypt, but the LGBTQ community has become a useful scapegoat for the el-Sisi regime, and the General Directorate for Protecting Public Morality is being used to jail and prosecute anyone perceived as committing a transgression.
Even when the charges don’t stick, charges can be used as a pretense for public humiliation, weeks of imprisonment, or even deportation.
Firas knew something was wrong when he saw the checkpoint.
He was meeting a man in Dokki’s Mesaha Square, a tree-lined park just across the Nile from Cairo, for what was supposed to be a romantic rendezvous.
In the weeks after the September crackdown, both Grindr and Hornet began sending out warnings through their apps, notifying users of the crackdown and giving the same advice about retaining a lawyer and watching for police accounts.
The messages served as a kind of early warning system, a way to spread news of the new threat as quickly as possible.
The condoms he had brought were entered as evidence.
He would spend the next 11 weeks in detention, mostly at the Doqi police station.Eventually, the authorities offered him an informal deportation — a chance to leave the country, in exchange for signing away his asylum rights and paying for the ticket himself.He jumped at the chance, leaving Egypt behind forever. As LGBTQ Egyptians flock to apps like Grindr, Hornet, and Growlr, they face an unprecedented threat from police and blackmailers who use the same apps to find targets.The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) has documented more than 230 LGBTQ-related arrests from October 2013 to March 2017, which is more than in the previous 13 years combined.For those in the community, the threat of violence is hard to escape.
The most recent wave of arrests started last September after an audience member unfurled a gay pride flag at a rock concert, something the regime took as a personal insult.