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Egypt moves towards criminalising homosexuality with new anti-gay bill

By Will Stroude

An Egyptian lawmaker has proposed a new bill that would make homosexuality illegal amid an anti-LGBT crackdown in the country.

MP Riyad Abdel Sattar has proposed the bill to Parliament earlier this week, which would see LGBT people and supporters face prison sentences.

Sattar’s draft of the bill reads: “Any person engaging in homosexuality in a public or private place should be subjected to punitive action that should be no less than one year and not exceeding three years in jail.”

According to The New Arab, people found guilty of “calling for the acceptance of homosexuality” and journalists covering LGBT events can be jailed for up to three years, even if they’re not gay themselves.

However, repeat offenders could face five years in jail, as the bill reads: “In case those jailed homosexual people repeated having sex after being freed, then the punitive action should be five years in jail.”

The proposed bill comes just weeks after the flying of rainbow flags at a concert by the band Mashrou’ Leila in Cairo last month sparked a crackdown against LGBT people and allies after images of the event were shared on social media.

Since then, nearly 70 men have been arrested and more than 20 have received jail sentences. Since homosexuality isn’t a crime in the country, most men are convicted of debauchery, immorality or blasphemy.

LGBT and rights groups have slammed the ongoing crackdown. Ty Cobb, the HRC Global Director, said the bill was “one of the most dangerous anti-LGBT proposals we have seen in recent memory.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Egypt should immediately halt this vicious crackdown on a vulnerable group simply for waving a flag. Repression will not turn gay people straight – it will only perpetuate fear and abuse.”

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