Dispatch: Protest in Solidarity with Egyptian LGBTI Against Human Rights Abuses

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Tens of Egyptian citizens are being arrested following a concert by a Lebanese band, Mashrou’ Leila, taking place on Friday, 22nd September, at one of Cairo’s biggest malls. These arrests followed a campaign by local media, which published several pieces across news and social media platforms inciting hate speech against members of the LGBT community in Egypt. As a result, there have been increased attacks against and arrests of citizens who suspected of attending the concert. People have been arrested randomly from the streets based on their perceived sexuality as well as increased entrapments of LGBT individuals by the morality police via gay dating apps and websites in addition raiding homes of LGBT individuals. The have been charged on counts of “inciting immorality” and engaging in acts of “debauchery”.

Pan Africa ILGA stands in solidarity with The Alliance Of Queer Egyptian Organizations (AQEO) and the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) and joins Human Rights Watch, ILGA Europe and the COC Netherlands in a statement condemning these unwarranted arrests and attacks as human rights violations especially the rights to freedom of expression in Egypt.

Activist Ahmed Alaa confirmed in a Buzzfeed video that he raised a rainbow flag at the concert in prior to his arrest.

Since the hate campaign began, 56 individuals and counting have been arrested in Cairo, Giza, Ismailia, South Sinai, Damietta and Beheira Governorate, facing charges of “habitual debauchery” and “promoting debauchery”, in accordance with Article 9A, Law number 10 of Egypt’s anti-prostitution and debauchery law 10/1961. Other charges faced are those of “promoting debauchery” and “aims to disrupt the provisions of the Constitution and the law through inciting ‘deviancy’” And a few others. A number of these individuals have already been prosecuted and found guilty and 15 defendants have received prison sentences, ranging from 6 months – 6 years. Police raids of homes of suspected homosexuals and their allies continue to occur, and the detainees experience ill treatment and invasive medical examinations as well as lack of easy access for lawyers to read and review reports, deprivation from food, denying family visits police officers encouraging harassment by other prisoners to the accused individuals. Political parties and community leaders have supported the media campaign and Members of Parliament and Al-Azhar religious scholars are pressuring the state to end “attempts to corrupt the youth”.

LGBT activists from Egypt and MENA region stated that these arrests follow “the escalating violent attempts to suppress and divide civil society organizations, restrict their resources, and increase security measures to silence advocates for human rights and freedom of speech and expression in Egypt, the Egyptian state and media have exceeded all expectations in spreading fear, discrimination and encouraging hate speech inciting Egyptian citizens against each other.”

In addition, a number of Egyptian human rights organizations condemned the crackdown on individuals based on their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. In their statement, the signatories said, “The state has no right to interfere in the private lives of people, except in cases involving violence, minors or non-consensual acts. While the police continue to hunt down dozens of gay people, or men who have sex with other men, using vague legal provisions to punish individuals who have not committed any crimes, the judicial system has failed to invest the equivalent amount of effort into investigating and prosecuting cases of female circumcision, child marriage and domestic violence, all of which are serious crimes committed against hundreds of thousands of girls and women each year.”


Call to action

Pan Africa ILGA join LGBT activists from Egypt and MENA region signatories of its statement in the following call to action:

  • “We call for human rights organizations, civil society, the international community, journalists, media experts, lawyers and all individuals who are interested in protecting human rights values to join their voices to ours and sign this statement.
  • We remind the Egyptian state of its important responsibility of protecting the security of Egyptian citizens and guaranteeing the freedom of speech and expression as stated by the Egyptian Constitution and International Conventions.
  • We call for media organizations to respect the values of professionalism during their coverage and defend human rights and avoid hate speech and demeaning terminology against Egyptian citizens, and refrain from giving a space to sources who intentionally spread fear and hate.” (Press release issued by the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality “AFE” )


PAI, in collaboration with other South African and African human rights groups, is in the process of planning protests in a show of solidarity with the Egyptian LGBT community and their allies who will be protesting in different cities worldwide on October 19, 2017. Join the online protest in solidarity with the Egyptian LGBTI community. For now, should you wish to show your solidarity, send your organisation/group’s logo to to be added as a signatory to this dispatch.

#ColorsRNotShame #RainbowIsNotCrime #ThisIsEgypt  الألوان_مش_عار#

You can also make your voice heard by signing this petition drawn up by activists from Egypt and MENA region.

 (See Egyptian law and history of LGBT sentiment at the bottom of this page for the Egyptian context)

For more information, contact:

Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organisations (AQEO)                         Pan Africa ILGA                                                                      






Egyptian law and history of anti-LGBTI sentiment

Egypt has no law against or ban on homosexuality or cross-dressing in its criminal code. Nevertheless, the law of debauchery directly criminalizes sexual relations between men, whether in monetary terms or not.

An anti-LGBT sentiment has been present since the 1980s under Hosni Mubarak’s regime. The Mubarak-led administration did not support LGBT rights legislation in Egypt and objected to the attempts beginning in the 1990s to have the United Nations include LGBT rights as part of its human rights mission.

Criminal sanctions against gay and bisexual men arise from a supplemental law combatting prostitution and “debauchery”. Since 2000, these laws have formed the basis of a systematic crackdown on gay or bisexual men and anyone deemed to support LGBT rights, with the “Public Order and Public Morals” code increasingly used to criminalise homosexuality.

The most notorious enactment of this crackdown was the “Cairo 52” where 52 gay men attending a Cairo boat party were arrested and charged with violating these public morality laws. These arrests elicited international outcry from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, amongst others.

Egypt has ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Moreover, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (African Commission) adopted Resolution #275, which holds each member state accountable to protect people from violence on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Egypt is also signatory to the core international human rights treaties such as the UDHR, ICCPR and CAT, which oblige states to protect, fulfil and promote all fundamental rights for all, without discrimination on any basis whatsoever. In particular, these treaties enjoin states to protect all individuals from violations of their rights to life, liberty including the right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment; and to be allowed a fair trial and freedom of expression. The Egyptian Constitution also protects these same rights under Articles 51, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 59.

As such, Egypt is in contravention of its own Constitution as well as the various international human rights instruments which it has undertaken to uphold through ratification. In its statement, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) “expresses its deep concern at the rapid referral of these cases to court, without enabling defendants to exercise their constitutional rights to contact their families and choose their lawyers.”



Call for Proposals: European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights

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The African Centre for for Democracy and Human Rights announces the call for proposals of the new European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

The overall indicative amount made available is EUR 25 000 000 (5 000 000 EUR for each lot).

Guidelines and relevant documentation can be found here.

The specific objectives of this year’s call are to support civil society and human rights defenders working outside the EU in five key areas of human rights corresponding to the five recurring lots of 2014-2017 EIDHR global calls for proposals:
·         Lot 1: Supporting Human Rights Defenders in the area of land-related rights, indigenous peoples, in the context of inter alia ‘land grabbing’ and climate change.
·         Lot 2: Fighting against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
·         Lot 3: Combating forced labour and modern slavery.
·         Lot 4: Promoting and supporting the rights of persons with disabilities.
·         Lot 5: Supporting freedom of religion or belief.

The deadline for submitting Concept Note is 9 November 2017 at 16:00 (Brussels time).

Human rights and freedom of expression violations in Egypt

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PAI stands in solidarity with the Arab Foundation for Equality in condemning the escalating human rights violations against the LGBTI community in Egypt, perpetrated by government and the media, and we call on our members and human rights organisations in Africa and the rest of the world to pressure the Egyptian state to desist from these abuses.
In a statement from the Arab Foundation, “During the past week, the Egyptian state arrested Egyptian citizens for raising a rainbow flag during a concert organized by a band, “Mashrou’ Leila”, on Friday, September 22, 2017. The local media supported these arrests by publishing numerous articles and interviews encouraging hate speech against groups and individuals that have gender non-conforming identities and sexual orientations, especially targeting LGBT people in Egypt. These provoking articles invaded most news and social media platforms.” To read more: 
PAI will publish a press release in the next few days.

Outrage at African Court ruling on case brought by the Coalition of African Lesbians

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We stand with CAL Secretariat in outrage at the African Court’s ruling yesterday. “The decision of the African Court effectively bars most civil society organisations and human rights defenders from seeking redress and justice from the most important court on the continent tasked with defending human rights.”

Calling African Transgender Advocates: Apply for a new AVAC program

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Calling African Transgender Advocates: Apply for a new AVAC program

September 28, 2017

Dear Advocates,

AVAC is pleased to announce a call for applications for participation in its inaugural PxROAR Transgender program, specifically for transgender and gender non-conforming HIV prevention advocates in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The application form is available here. The submission deadline is 15 October.

About PxROAR Transgender Africa
PxROAR Transgender Africa will offer HIV prevention education and advocacy assistance with the goal of creating a regional agenda for HIV prevention research and implementation for the transgender community. The program is modeled on AVAC’s PxROAR Africa Program, which is tailored for key populations. Advocacy for self-determination and free expression is mutually dependent on the goal to seek control and, eventually, end HIV epidemics in underserved communities.

PxROAR Transgender Africa has two primary goals
1) To enhance awareness of and advocacy for biomedical HIV prevention.
2) To contribute to a transgender presence at country and regional level articulating a rights and biomedical prevention agenda.

Time commitments
The PxROAR Transgender Africa program is voluntary and intended to complement ongoing work in HIV, gender and/or human rights advocacy. The time commitment depends on your own level of availability. Outside of a required monthly group call, you determine your level of engagement. However, AVAC is interested in partnering with those who maximize the opportunity by tapping into all the program’s offerings. Technical and financial support is commensurate with the level of commitment.

Who should apply?

  • Transgender and non-conforming African advocates from Eastern and Southern Africa interested in expanding their knowledge of biomedical HIV prevention research and implementation, creating a roadmap for transgender and HIV prevention research, translating scientific information and mobilizing communities toward the ultimate goal of controlling HIV in highly burdened, underserved populations.
  • Ideal candidates will have the potential to integrate their PxROAR advocacy, complementing and benefiting their current work.


Please send this request for applications to your relevant networks. If you have any questions, let us know at

BREAKING: Kenya Medical Association Issues Statement on Forced Examinations

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Breaking statement from the Kenya Medical Association: A groundbreaking victory for Kenyan activists.

“This past weekend something truly historic happened. As you are aware, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) has mounted a massive campaign towards ending Forced Anal Examinations in Kenya, complementing our litigation work on the same. After two years of engagement with partners—specifically on forced anal examinations and STI testing in the collection of criminal evidence—the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) issued a statement in support of our fight.

This move comes after internal consultations between the NGLHRC and members of the KMA who have voiced their support for our campaign. 

The KMA is the premier Association working to improve the welfare of doctors in the country as well as advocating for quality healthcare for all Kenyans. It currently has close to 3000 members.

Following a Governing Council Meeting held on September 23rd, 2017 at which the NGLHRC’s concerns surrounding the complicity of medical professionals in forced medical examinations were raised, the KMA Governing Council issued a press statement resolving, among other things:

  • To condemn and discourage any form of forced examination of clients, even in the guise of discovering crimes, and to advise practitioners to always conduct consenting procedures for ALL clients they examine.
  • To advise practitioners to ALWAYS adhere to the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in their interactions with all clients under all circumstances, including those under police custody.
  • To call on the National Government to ensure that health workers operate in safe and secure environments, free of intimidation or duress, including from officers in government or the security forces.
  • Through our Reproductive Health Committee, to organize a forum to address the health needs and rights of members of the LGBTIQ community.

Read the full press statement here.

This is a first for Kenya, and proof that our work is bearing fruit!

NGLHRC is encouraged by this progressive statement as we work to end the use of forced anal examinations, which have been shown to be discriminatory and bear no scientific basis as to their findings. In fact, such exams have been disproven within the medical community as a means to ascertain whether individuals have engaged in anal sex. As Dr. Bichanga Osiemo, a medical professional working with Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) and a member of the KMA Standing Committee on Human Rights notes, “the lack of standardization of the practice [examinations are conducted using various methods and at the discretion of practitioners] means the practice is not derived from knowledge gained in medical school but instead, it is something cultured. Therefore, there is no established basis on which practitioners form their conclusions.”

The support of medical doctors in ending the practice is crucial as evidenced in countries like Tunisia where a ban on forced anal examinations  to prove homosexuality was recently issued, in part due to strong opposition from the medical community.

We, the NGLHRC team, support medical doctors in Kenya who are standing up for the rights of the LGBTIQ community to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Sign the petition against forced anal examinations.”

Pan Africa ILGA congratulates the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Kenya Medical Association and Kenyan activists in this groundbreaking victory and join them in the hope that this win will spread throughout the continent.

Litigation Update:

NGLHRC’s case appealing the use of forced anal examinations, Petition 51 of 2015: Freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 25 of the Constitution of Kenya  is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, October 11th, 2017.

The case regards the forced anal examinations and STI testing of two men in Kwale county in 2015. In June 2016, the High Court of Mombasa sided with law enforcement that this was a legitimate means of gathering evidence of consensual same sex. NGLHRC is appealing this discriminatory ruling.”


Ford Foundation Bids its Program Officer Farewell

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On Friday, 22nd September, Ford Foundation South Africa hosted a workshop and a farewell to its Program Officer of 10 years, Dr Eka Williams.

Dr Eka Williams, outgoing Program Officer at Ford Foundation South Africa

As Program Officer, Dr Williams has overseen the Ford Foundation South Africa’s donations to human rights NPOs and NGOs in South Africa and in the continent. Speaking at the event, the Foundation’s Director, Nicolette Naylor, said that the most lasting legacy Dr Williams has left is her refusal to support only South African grantees, and has always seen South Africa as part of the greater continent.

Naylor opened the workshop portion of the farewell, the theme of which was intersectionality. The emphasis of the day’s activities focused on whether organisations use intersectionality as their framework, and how they do so. Furthermore, the importance of integration within each organisations’ different departments or focus groups while focusing on intersectionality. “What does being alive to the issue of intersectionality mean?” asked Naylor. She argued that the answer lay in organisations working in the fields of gender, HIV and LGBTI lend themselves well to studies of intersectionality. These organisations, she argued, treated intersectionality in a way “that goes beyond a tickbox exercise and is woven through their strategy, their target population and ask themselves the question of whether our organisations are led by members from their target populations”. Naylor emphasised the importance of intersectionality within the LGBTI sector by stating that Ford is finding a lot more space for intersectionality and integration in LGBTI organisations.

One of the speakers on the day, Lucinda van den Heever from Aids Accountability International argued that “if we miss out on focusing on class, gender, race and sexual orientation, individually and intersectionally, we miss out on making any real change to oppression.”

The focus on the LGBTI sector was again emphasised by Dr Eka Williams in response to a question on what she would have focused on if she were staying at Ford: “The areas I would really  like to invest more money in and focus on would be the LGBT community and youths and adolescents.”

Dr Williams’ work has been invaluable to the many South African and African grantees of the Ford Foundation’s donations, including Pan Africa ILGA, and she will be sorely missed at the Foundation and by the NGOs and NPOs she has worked with over the last decade, and we wish her the best in her future endeavours.

Dr Williams will be at the Foundation until the end of the year.