This week, an Egyptian administrative court shot down an allegedly gay man’s appeal to be allowed to return to the country in order to continue his university studies. The Libyan man was arrested and deported after a complaint was filed against him for homosexuality in 2008.
According to an unnamed judicial source, the decision was justified on the grounds that it was intended to ‘protect public interest and religious and social values.’ Given this, it could well provide the government legal grounding for expelling other LGBT foreigners.
Since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian government under the military leader President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has severely cracked down on the country’s LGBT population. There have been over 150 arrests since October 2013, the most notorious being the arrest of 26 men at a Cairo bathhouse on national television late last year.
In a comment to The Guardian, Dalia Abd El-Hameed of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said:
“This ruling came with both the state and the media in a continuous, vicious campaign against LGBT people. The state is using what might be socially unacceptable means to justify violations of people’s human rights and rights to privacy.”
Additionally, by using the law that bans “debauchery,” Mohamed Lotfy of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms says that the implications for this ruling could be severe:
“This ruling has more weight than previous criminal cases. The real problem comes from the law. It speaks very vaguely of debauchery.”
Scott Long, an activist in Cairo, added that part of the danger is in not knowing how the ruling will be used.
“The court seems to have affirmed a policy which we simply didn’t know about. It’s hard to make out how it’s going to be applied, or against whom.”