Washington, D.C.?APRIL 07, 2014 ?? Human Rights First today expressed serious concern over news reports that three Egyptian men have been sentenced to eight years in prison and a fourth man sentenced to three years in prison for ?homosexual acts.? The men were convicted by an Egyptian court today for violating Article 9(c) of Law 10/1961, which provides a penalty of up to ten years for ?habitual debauchery.?
?We are alarmed and disappointed to hear of the verdict convicting these men based on their sexual orientation and identity.? said Human Rights First?s Shawn Gaylord. ?Egypt is a bellwether state in the Arab region; what happens in Egypt sets a trend for developments throughout the Arab world.? ?The United States has a long-standing, close and complex relationship with Egypt, and it must use its leverage to protest the expansion of the crackdown on political dissent and now LGBT people.?We urge the Obama administration to immediately condemn this ruling and to calculate these latest sentences in its assessment of how to take concrete steps to advance human rights and the rule of law in Egypt.? When President Obama spoke in Cairo in 2009 about protecting ?the principles of justice and progress; tolerance and dignity of all human beings? he certainly meant all Egyptians, including LGBT people.?
While Egypt does not explicitly criminalize same-sex activity, gay men have regularly been imprisoned under other sections of law. Since the 2013 ouster of the Morsi regime, arrests of members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community have increased along with the escalated crackdown on political dissenters, activists and journalists.
In recent months, several African nations have become part of an alarming trend that is also unfolding in Eastern Europe?and Central Asia to enact discriminatory laws that infringe on the rights of LGBT people based on their identity. Human Rights First recently issued a?factsheet?highlighting African leaders who, amidst an increasing hostile environment, have publicly supported protecting the human rights of LGBT people.
Human Rights First continues to urge the United States to demonstrate leadership on global LGBT rights by taking diplomatic action to respond to anti-gay laws, working to stop passage of further discriminatory laws, and promoting the protection of LGBT rights as human rights worldwide.