Police in Egypt are using fake dating profiles on apps such as Grindr to find, arrest, and imprison users.
Human Rights Watch reports that the government in Egypt is specifically targeting the LGBT+ community using social media and apps such as Grindr to “clean the streets” of queer people.
The watchdog group has accused Egyptian police, law enforcement, and the National Security Agency of routinely picking up individuals through the use of social media and gay dating apps, often detaining them, and using illegal phone searches to obtain evidence.
Human Rights Watch also reports that “once in jail the victims are subjected to systematic torture and abuse, including forced “virginity tests”.
One Egyptian who suffered abuse at the hands of the law, “Yasser”, 27, told the group he was arrested in Giza after chatting to a man on Grindr. “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 fulfil my ‘unnatural sexual desires’.”
Rasha Younes, LGBT+ rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “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.”
The attacks come amid a fierce anti-LGBT crackdown in the country following the 2017 Mashrou’ Leila concert, when a picture of Sarah Hegazy raising a rainbow flag among the crowd was widely circulated.
She was quickly detained by police, who tortured her for months and incited fellow detainees to beat and sexually assault her. Hegazy killed herself three years later, sending waves of shock and solidarity worldwide.
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