Last edited: January 05, 2005

Egypt Officially Brands Homosexuality ‘Perverted’

The Egyptian State Information Service has issued a strongly worded condemnation of homosexuality.

Rainbow Network (U.K. glbt), March 13, 2002

The ESIS said that because homosexuality is illegal under Islamic Sharia law, its practise is believed to be "socially detested". The organisation said that homosexuality "defies normality," it blamed gay men for spreading AIDS and branded homosexuals "perverts". The statement went on to describe Egypt as enlightened in its criminalising of homosexuality, and western countries who implement laws protecting partnership rights for same sex couples as "perverted".

The outburst came about when a RainbowNetwork member, who has declined to be named, contacted the ESIS in an attempt to find out more about the Cairo 52 case, in which a number of men were arrested by the Egyptian government and imprisoned on charges relating to homosexuality. The member asked if it is illegal to be gay in Egypt.

An anonymous spokesman for the ESIS, the official information service for the Egyptian government, replied via email. He told the RainbowNetwork member: "We have received your email by which you have expressed your disappointment as regards the fate reserved for homosexuals and lesbians in Egypt."

The email continued: "We, too, we are disappointed for the sympathy you reserve for those who, by their immoral practices, defy and contempt very cherished values of our society."

It read: "Egypt is a Muslim country and according to our Islamic Sharia teachings and tenets, sex should be practiced between a male and a female strictly through conjugal relations—the "family" being the core and nucleus of the Islamic society. That is in full obedience and conformity with the natural disposition of Mankind as Created by God for the population of the Earth with righteous men and women, not wrong doers who commit vice by practicing their lusts on men in preference to women (or the latter with the same sex in preference to men)."

The email continued: "Consequently, homosexuality is socially detested and legally condemned and persecuted. It defies the society’s norms and moralities as inspired by the religion and stipulated by law. And this is for the good interest of families and children to live in a society free from both physical and psychological disease and problems. It is worth mentioning in this context Egypt currently does not suffer from disastrous plagues such as HIV AIDS which haunts non-Muslim societies."

It added: "Moreover, one might agree that such a perverted practice is a question of individual freedom on the grounds that one can use or exploit his own body freely and in the way he likes. But the freedom of anyone ends at the point where other’s start. For instance, no one can take to the streets all naked, thus offending the society and transgressing its values. In this context it is worth noting that those perverts, while inside the bar for trial, were very keen, out of shame, to cover and hide their faces from the press cameras because they were innately aware that they have transgressed all sacred tenets of society."

The statement criticised attempts in the West to enshrine gay rights in law. It said: "It is not out of backwardness that we denounce and criminalise homosexuality, for persecuting disgrace, mischief and perversion is full in tune with our civilization, cultural and religious—the true civilization, not the perverted one—which accepts and even legitimizes homosexuality and homosexual marriage!!"

The email concluded: "Finally, and now that we are engaged in the so-called dialogue between religions and civilizations, you might, one day, come to understand not to accept our genuine values which have their roots deep in the history of Egypt, the cradle of civilization."

The statement comes days after five men were sentenced to hard labour in prison on convictions related to homosexuality.

It follows comments made last December by the Speaker of the Egyptian parliament. Ahmed Fathi Surer said: "Homosexuality does not figure in Egyptian law."

In recent years the Egyptian government has mounted an increasingly aggressive campaign to arrest and prosecute homosexuals.

Although homosexuality is not explicitly referred to in the Egyptian penal code, a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution and debauchery are applied to homosexuals

The RainbowNetwork member said: "I was quite amazed with the response, but think it was a standard reply that other people might have received. Politeness was repaid with a strident response which left me flabbergasted."

He added: "I was very annoyed when the Prime Minister took a family holiday in Egypt. To a degree I couldn’t help feeling that the Egyptian view expresses what is left unsaid by some senior politicians in this country."

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