A week after seven men were arrested for waiving rainbow flags at a rock concert in Egypt, a government council has banned the media from showing any kind of support for the LGBT community.
Makram Mohamed, leader of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR), issued the order, claiming that homosexuality is a "shameful disease" that shouldn't be promoted. He also stated that homosexuals should only appear in the media to repent their unacceptable behavior. The role of media, Mohamed added, is to shine a light on the dangers of homosexuality, not to validate it.
He blamed the West for trying to normalize abhorrent behavior.
The incident occurred at a September 23 concert by Mashrou’ Leila that drew some 35,000 people to Cairo Festival City. (Mashrou’ Laila’s lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is openly gay.) Images of the flags appeared on social media almost immediately.
The arrestees have reportedly been subjected to forced anal examinations to find “evidence” of homosexual conduct. One has already been sentenced to six years in prison for debauchery, plus an additional six years of probation.
Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came into power in 2014, several hundred people have been imprisoned on charges of consensual same-sex conduct. Human Rights Watch reports at least 34 people have been arrested for consensual same-sex conduct in the last year.
“The Egyptian government, by rounding people up based on their presumed sexual orientation, is showing flagrant disregard for their rights.” said Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson. “Egypt should stop dedicating state resources to hunting people down for what they allegedly do in their bedrooms, or for expressing themselves at a rock concert," added Whitson, "and should instead focus energy on improving its dire human rights record."
The Egyptian Musicians Syndicate has banned future Mashrou’ Leila from performing in Egypt again.