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The Biden administration is funding a police crackdown on LGBTs in Egypt

Activists say money from the US and UK is being used to entrap LGBTs on dating apps.




Gay dating apps Scruff, Hornet, and Grindr // © Bloomberg

According to a BBC investigation, Egyptian authorities are actively hunting down LGBT citizens using money that can be traced back to the United States and United Kingdom. The police are using dating apps and social media to lure people into conversations and then arresting them.

While homosexuality is not explicitly illegal in Egypt, these authorities are citing a law criminalizing sex work in order to justify targeting the LGBT community. This leads many in the community to live in fear and hiding, making it difficult for them to make meaningful connections with each other. Instead of meeting publicly, they are forced to talk on dating apps and social media platforms. But even simply using these apps has been grounds for arrest based on morality laws in Egypt.

BBC reports that the police determine whom to target and subsequently initiate conversations with them using various applications or online communities. The news outlet included in their publication an example of one such conversation and further noted that almost all others were too explicit to publish.

The following is a conversation between an Egyptian police officer and a gay man via the app WhosHere, a GPS based app similar to Grindr.  
“Police: Have you slept with men before?
App user: Yes 
Police: How about we meet? 
App user: But I live with mom and dad
Police: Come on dear, don’t be shy, we can meet in public and then go to my flat.”

The officer appears to be pressuring the man to meet him under the guise of having sex. This app user was reportedly later arrested.

Another instance of the Egyptian police targeting a gay man involved the complete fabrication of evidence leading to an arrest. In order to protect the man’s anonymity, the BBC simply referred to the man as Laith.

One day in April 2018, Laith was contacted by someone posing as a friend. The supposed friend asked Laith if he would like to meet for a drink. Laith agreed, and when he showed up, the friend was not to be found. Instead police apprehended Laith and placed him under arrest.

Laith claims that the police created a fake profile using his name and altered photos on WhosHere. The photos were made to look sexual in nature, and a conversation was fabricated showing Laith propositioning other men to have sex for money. Laith claimed that the legs in the photos do not look like his, and one leg appeared to be larger than the other, suggesting the photos were altered.

Laith was accused of “habitual debauchery” but was fortunately let out of jail after only one month due to a successful appeal. He also claimed that the authorities asked him to snitch on other gay men he knew.

BBC also reports that cybersecurity experts have called out WhosHere for particular vulnerabilities. The app supposedly allows hackers easily to access location and other data from its users. Some of the ways in which the app uses and stores data specifically violates privacy laws in the U.K. and other parts of the European Union.

It was also reported that criminal gangs have taken a page out of the Egyptian authorities’ book as they are also targeting people of the LGBT community using apps and social media. In some instances these criminals threaten the lives of gays and lesbians forcing them to admit their homosexuality and state their full names on video. Some are even made to strip and dance. These videos are then shared online in hopes of humiliating the victims.

Egypt is considered one of the few important Middle Eastern allies to Western counties such as the U.S. and members of the E.U. The Egyptian government receives billions of dollars in support from these allies annually, and over half a million British citizens visit Egypt each year giving even more money from their tourism.

BBC reports that according to the U.K. Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, no funding from the U.K. has gone to support the training and implementation of these questionable tactics used by Egyptian authorities to target and arrest members of the LGBT community.

Due to the positive diplomatic relationship between the West and Egypt, the Egyptian government feels they can get away with violating international human rights law. LGBT advocates in the Middle East cannot seem to agree on how this issue should be handled and if it should be highlighted in local and international media. They do, however, all agree that despite what western governments might claim, their funding is going directly to the suppression and targeting of LGBT people in the area.