21-year-old student on the run in Egypt after his boyfriend was arrested for being gay

The anti-gay crackdown in Egypt has intensified in recent weeks, as authorities continue to round up LGBT+ people and arrest them.

Last month, a group of men proudly waved the rainbow Pride flag at a Mashrou’ Leila concert in Cairo.

However, following the incident it has been reported that 70 people have been arrested and handed sentences ranging from six months to six years.

Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Egypt, but gay men are being charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy.

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.

One person who has been caught up in this atrocious crackdown is a 21-year-old student being referred to as Karim in order to protect his identity.

Karim’s boyfriend Omar (again, not his real name) was one of the people detained and then arrested by Egyptian authorities last month, purely because of his sexual orientation.

“Omar is part of what police call an ‘outlawed’ group – a student union for advocates,” Karim told Gay Star News.

“He’s working to get his law degree to tackle restrictions on freedom of speech in Egypt.”

Karim explained that two weeks ago he stopped hearing from Omar, going on to discover that his family and friends haven’t been able to get hold of him either.

Karim added that Omar’s family don’t know that he is gay, and he worries that they will turn their back on him if they find out.

“He has yet to be given a trial. This is unfair. He’s just sitting and waiting,” Karim said.

“In a way I wish it was me who was in prison. Omar would know what to do.”

Karim is now on the run, fearing that he will next be detained by authorities and imprisoned for being gay. He hopes human rights organisations can help free Omar and protect countless more LGBT+ Egyptians.

Last week, MP Riyad Abdel Sattar has proposed a new measure that would see homosexuality made illegal, and LGBT+ people and their “supporters” face lengthy prison sentences, according to The New Arab.

“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.

Meanwhile, gay dating apps Grindr and Hornet are helping users in the region with safety tips and warnings.

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.

Related: Meet the teenaged activist who’s got to flee his country or die trying

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