Source: African Independent 

Thirty three people have been arrested by the Egyptian authorities as part of a crackdown on gays after a rainbow flag was raised at a recent concert, according to activists and rights group, Reuters reported yesterday.

The arrests began on September 23 after a group of people were seen raising the flag the day before in a rare public show of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the conservative Muslim country.

Egypt’s public prosecutor announced an investigation after segments of the country's media launched a scathing attack on those who had raised the flag at the concert of alternative Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila, whose lead singer is openly gay. 

Those arrested on Monday included Ahmed Alaa, and Sarah Hegazy, the first women to be arrested in an incident relating to homosexuality. Charges against the two included “joining a group formed in contrary to the law” and “propagating that group’s idea”. 

Hegazy was also charged with “promoting sexual deviancy and debauchery” and the Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered them detained for 15 days.

The Lebanese rock band condemned the arrests. 

“We denounce the demonisation and prosecution of victimless acts between consenting adults. It is sickening to think that all this hysteria has been generated over a couple of kids raising a piece of cloth that stands for love,” said Mashrou’ Leila.

Meanwhile,on Sunday, the trial of 17 men, accused of engaging in homosexuality inside an apartment, began in a session held in the Azbakia Misdemeanour Court in Cairo. The men were accused of promoting homosexuality and inciting debauchery - but they all denied the charges. Their case has been adjourned until October 29 when a verdict will be delivered.

There is no specific law in Egypt banning homosexuality, but gays face discrimination there. 

One man recently arrested for homosexual behaviour has already been charged with “debauchery”, the euphemism used by the Egyptian authorities, and sentenced to six years in jail.

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