Lets get straight to the point, we aren’t talking about Copts, Jews, Americans, or even Palestinian refuguees, we are talking about the group that by and large, is generally beaten down by every society that can get away with it, and thats the LGBTQA community.
Now targeting of lesbians has been noted less, but given that Egypt only formally recognized that being gay was a real “thing” rather than something to be exorcised out of someone was in 2001, so give them time to work out what all their women are doing and then i’m sure they’ll start lynching the women as brutally if not more brutally than the men.
Strangely for a country who’s constitution is founded on a bronze age code of laws, there’s nothing directly against being Gay. However that is somewhat understandable, given that certainly during many incarnations of persian, ottoman and arabic civilizations that have existed throughout the middle east there has been a space for LGBTQA people to exist, although those roles were far closer to that of the Hijra of India than the Two Spirit mystics of the first nations people of the americas… So Egypt says nothing about being gay, having anal intercourse, or giving another guy a blowjob in their constitution, however sadly in part due to the influence of a puritanical interpretation of Islam, the politicians, the police and the courts have found ways to “prosecute” being “deviant”.
Generally these along the lines of “violating deceny”, “dishonorable actions”, and almost novelly “consorting with satan”. The case the world is probably most familiar with is of the Cairo 52 a group of 52 gay men who were arrested at a nightclub. In police custody they were brutalized, beaten and bashed, before being run through a show trial accusing them of “Habitual Debauchery” and “Obscene Behavior”, many European countries objected as well as amnesty international. Of course its worth remembering that given the power the US had over Egypt, one call from the white-house could have made the difference, but that was the openly homophobic Bush with the phone, so he ignored it.
Since the throwing out of the British Empire, Egypt has been led by 3 tyrants, General Nassar, Anwar Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak, all of whom while nominally secular have paid lip service to the puritan muslims who play a part in modern Egypt. However because LGBTQA people are generally by their very nature a challenge to the existing order by being “different”, any open LGBTQA person has paid the price, generally unnoticed for Egypt’s tyrannical order.
Now things are changing, Mubarak is hiding out in the south, hopefully soon to be exiled, the head of the secret police is now handing over power to the military council and hopefully within 6 months free and fair elections will be held, and a new dawn will arise out over Egypt.
With ruthless efficiency, the right wing media has been screaming about the Muslim Brotherhood, ignoring the fact that the militant wing burned out during the early 90s along with the majority of the islamist groups in the muslim world. They also fail to mention that no such complaints were raised about allowing Sinn Fein the political arm of a group who had decidedly militant members under the banner of the IRA. Now I’m under no illusions, were Egypt become an Islamic democracy along the lines laid out by Sayt Qutb, it would be as bad, if not worse than the current situation. But I think thats about as likely as Glenn Beck acting rationally on his TV show.
Egypt when it elects its new parliament will be a new country, it will be a country where at the height of the violence, those of a muslim faith protected the Copts praying in their midst, and where those same Copts formed a human shield to protect their Egyptian comrades while they made their daily prayers. Its a country where a tyrant could not repress the young, the old, the women, the children, or even the donkeys that some people brought to Tahir square.
This new Egypt is one thats connected like never before, where new ideas and concepts can travel, and maybe without the repression of Sulieman’s secret police, the LGBTQA community can flourish, and become an open and proud member of this free re-imagined Egypt.
I’m a brit by birth, and my genetics that relate to England make me the descendent of those who practiced the art of Empire across the globe with exceptional arrogance, so I know what it means to be colonial. I’m not telling the people of the New Egypt what to do because I’m British and they are indigent savages. I’m saying that a new dawn has risen over the Nile valley, why not make it a dawn for all those repressed under the tyrants.
So I think maybe I’m an optimist, but I think today is the best news for the LGBTQA community of Egypt and indeed the entire Arab world in a generation.