Egypt using dating apps to arrest LGBTQ+

"They beat me and cursed me until I signed papers that said I was ‘practicing debauchery’ and publicly announcing it to fulfill my ‘unnatural sexual desires’.”

In Egypt, they are attempting to “clear the streets” of the LGBT+ community. And in a modern-day dystopian twist, the police are using dating apps to find and trap these individuals. (TW: references to violence and sexual violence). By Michael Delaney.

Dating apps

A report last week by Humans Rights Watch has alerted the international community to the tactic of security forces using dating apps to detain people from the LGBTQ+ community.

Using social media and apps such as Grindr, Egyptian police are first creating fake profiles, which they then use to meet gay, lesbian, bi and trans people.

These unassuming individuals are then taken from the streets and held against their will. The police will usually confiscate their phones and search through its content to justify keeping them in detention and bring charges against them.

“The guy I met on Grindr is one of the officers”

The charges that are being filed against the LGBTQ+ people are those of vague discriminatory “debauchery” and “prostitution” laws.

One 27-year-old who was arrested by the police after agreeing to meet up with another man using the app Grindr has shared his experience:

“When they came back with a police report, I was surprised to see the guy I met on Grindr is one of the officers. They beat me and cursed me until I signed papers that said I was ‘practicing debauchery’ and publicly announcing it to fulfill my ‘unnatural sexual desires’.”

Another victim of this horrible crackdown against the LGBTQ+ community is a 28-year-old trans activist. In the report by Human Rights Watch, she explains how she bled for three days following a forced vaginal and anal examination as part of a “virinity test” performed by the secuirty forces.

Others held captive have spoken out about the routine beatings, violent sexual assaults and verbal abuse they have received while in detention.

Mashrou’ Leila concert

This severe crackdown on the LGBTQ+ community became increasingly severe following a concert by the openly-gay Labanese group, Mashrou’ Leila, back in 2017.

During the performance, Egyptian socialist, writer, and lesbian activist, Sarah Hegazy was pictured waving the rainbow flag amoiungst the crowd, which was widely circulated.

As a result of her actions, Ms Hegazy was detained and tortured for 3 months. She sadly took her own life earlier this year on 14th June.

Rasha Younes, Human Right Watch’s LGBT+ rights researcher for the Middle East and North Africa, has released a statement saying:

“Egyptian authorities seem to be competing for the worst record on rights violations against LGBT+ people in the region, while the international silence is appalling“.

She has also appealed to the international community to intervene: “Egypt’s partners should halt support to its abusive security forces until the country takes effective steps to end this cycle of abuse, so that LGBT+ people can live freely in their country.”

Organisations you can support

There is no quick fix to this, but there are organisations that are dedicated to bringing about change.

If you want to get involved or donate to help the cause, head to either:

Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch

And write to your MP!