The Egyptian government has recently launched a harsh crackdown on the LGBTQ community in Egypt. This was triggered by a concert late last month where some concertgoers waved a rainbow flag in the audience. Photos of the flag went viral on social media.
In the last several days, more than 60 people have been arrested according to human rights activists. Raids have been conducted on locations thought to be frequented by homosexuals, bisexuals, and trangender people, notably some cafes. Some of these places have been shut down. Other people have been detained in their homes, or lured by police using apps or online chat-rooms to ensnare people.
Those arrested have been receiving sentences from six months to six years in prison under a 50-year-old law against prostitution which also includes a clause against "debauchery". Homosexuality itself is not illegal in Egypt, so the conservative government is using the anti-prostitution law's nondescript language to their advantage.
All of this is because on September 22nd, a Lebanese band named Mashrou’ Leila performed in Egypt. Mashrou’ Leila's frontman is openly gay. During the performance, as seen below, concertgoers waved rainbow flags in the audience. When photos circulated online of this, there was a tremendous amount of public outrage. Just a few days after the performance, the Egypt Musicians Syndicate banned the band from any further performances in Egypt.
Egypt's population is around 90% Muslim, and about 10% Christian. It is a very conservative population, and a 2013 Pew Research poll found that 94% of Egypt's population thought that homosexuality was morally wrong.
With all the problems facing the world. And all the problems facing Egypt, specifically, this continuing demonization of the LGBTQ community that religious conservatives are so hellbent on is maddening. Twenty-five percent of the Egyptian population is living in poverty, there are food shortages, inflation is higher than it has ever been, but what should they worry about? Oh, we cannot have people waving a rainbow flag at concert. Madness.
I take the position of the late Christopher Hitchens, who said, "Homosexuality is not just a form of sex, it's a form of love, and it deserves our respect for that reason." Religions, especially the Abrahamic ones, have always had the most unhealthy ideas about sex. They especially demonize female sexuality and homosexuality and they have an obsession with virginity and purity.
The unnatural suppression of these natural tendencies towards sex does real damage. This is why you have "celibate" Catholic priests raping children in their churches, or twisted female genital mutilation practices among Muslims. It all stems from this demented view of sexuality.
We can add it to the already exhaustive list of tragedies that result from religion.