Skip to main content

Egypt condemns Orlando attack, yet continues crackdown on LGBT citizens

Egypt's LGBT activists, who once had high hopes that the January 25 Revolution would bring about a greater openness for gays in Egypt, have been sorely disappointed by the actions against them under the Sisi administration.
Defendants react after hearing the verdict at a court in Cairo January 12, 2015.  An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the release of 26 men who were detained last month in a raid on a Cairo bath house after police received a tip that they were holding gay orgies."The court has ruled that all the accused are innocent," the judge said.  REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST) - RTR4L2M4

On June 15, three days after the attack on an Orlando gay nightclub by a gunman that killed 49 people and left 53 injured, Yousuf Rezk, 18, posted a picture on Facebook of a man raising a rainbow flag (a symbol of LGBT pride) with the Pyramids of Giza as a backdrop. Not surprisingly, the face of the man in the picture was hidden to protect his identity. The caption below the photograph read, “In solidarity with the LGBT community around the world, which still has to fight against hatred and discrimination." 

As a young member of Egypt’s LGBT community, Rezk has experienced prejudice and stigma firsthand. He is one of a handful of Egyptian gays who have courageously come out to their families about their sexual orientation. And Rezk has gone even further. On his Facebook page, he defiantly describes himself as "an LGBT activist." Going public with his sexuality is an act of bravery in Egypt, a deeply conservative society where nearly 200 people have been arrested since late 2013 on the charge of “debauchery.” A 2013 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 95% of Egyptians believed that homosexuality should not be accepted by society. 

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.