The situation for LGBT+ people in Egypt is getting worse.
A gender researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has claimed that Egyptian police are using dating apps like Grindr to lure gay men into hotel rooms with the intention of arresting them.
Dalia Abdel-Hameed told The Age newspaper that she unearthed dozens of police reports which outline a “cultivation” technique, where suspected gay men are seduced via dating apps.
“It’s related to the fact that men are using apps more than women and an obsession of who is being penetrated,” she said. “There is this penetration mania in Egypt due to religious reasons, mostly.”
The violent ‘crackdown’ on gay men began last month following a Mashrou’ Leila concert in Cairo, where some members of the crowd waved rainbow flags.
It's the first time that I see the rainbow flag flying in Egypt. That was so heartwarming. ????✨ pic.twitter.com/FdU71A0lIP
— Hitch (@amrhitch) September 22, 2017
Over 57 people have been arrested since the incident on charges of debauchery and sexual deviancy laws. Many of these have reportedly been lured through dating apps like Grindr.
While homosexuality isn’t illegal in Egypt, societal views towards those in the LGBT+ community are increasingly hostile, and the vagueness of the term ‘debauchery’ has allowed authorities to arrest gay men.
What’s more, authorities in Egypt don’t deny the fact they are specifically targeting LGBT+ people, with state media and the religious establishment claiming that it’s a public duty to tackle the spread of homosexuality.
“People are living in fear and persecution,” Abdel-Hameed continued. “This is really the biggest crackdown we’ve witnessed… we have seen this pattern before but it is far more vicious this time.”
Last week, a bill was proposed by MP Riyad Abdel Sattar that would make homosexuality illegal in Egypt if passed.
“Any person engaging in homosexuality in a public or private place should be subjected to punitive action that should be no less than one year and not exceeding three years in jail,” a draft of the proposed bill states.
HRC Global Director Ty Cobb has branded the measure “one of the most dangerous anti-LGBTQ proposals we have seen in recent memory.”
In an effort to combat this crackdown on LGBT+ people, gay dating apps Grindr and Hornet are issuing safety warnings and tips in Arabic to users in the region who are at risk of being targeted by authorities.
Tips that Grindr are issuing include letting close ones know where you are going before you meet someone, double checking if you have mutual friends with the other user, and attempting to meet in a virtual space so you can be certain that you are talking to another LGBT+ person and not an undercover official.