Any decisions taken by the UN on matters of homosexuality and gay rights are “irrelevant and will not change the international reality”, the Egyptian delegate in the United Nations, Amr Ramadan, said on Thursday, commenting on the Human Rights Council’s decision to appoint an independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity, as reported by state media
Ramadan said that “these practices” are refused by large sectors in different societies and cultures and that “these lifestyles” are propagated by the West. He added that appointing an expert on the matter would be a “dangerous issue” as it gives “these elements” the right to marriage and adoption, which the Egyptian diplomat described as conflicting with “the International Law of Human Rights and National Sovereignty”. This conflict, he added, will divide people according to their sexual orientation.
Egypt did not vote on choosing an expert as it is not a member of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Twenty-three countries voted for the decision, while 18 voted against, with six abstaining.
According to the council, the expert is “to assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to identify and address the root causes of violence and discrimination”.
Egypt is one of the top prosecutor of homosexuals and transgender individuals, despite the lack of any clear article that criminalises different sexual orientations. Gay men are usually prosecuted with charges of “deceiving public morals”, and are subject to degrading treatment and medical examinations whilst in detention.
Ramadan added that the Egyptian delegation refused the appointment of the expert as “it conflicts with Egyptian morals” and that the delegation mobilised with a “Islamic group”, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which is against the decision.
In a high-profile raid on 7 December 2014, a force from the Egyptian “vice police” raided a bath house and referred the defendants to court. Four of the defendants, including the bathhouse’s owner, were charged with “running a place that organises paid sexual orgies” while the remaining 21 faced charges of debauchery.
The arrests were filmed and broadcast by controversial TV presenter Mona Iraqi who was said to have collaborated with the police officer leading the raid.
All the defendants were, however, later acquitted.
The Interior Ministry contains a “vice police” department, which is responsible for arresting defendants charged with crimes related to sexuality, ‘moral violations’, or indecency. The department has its own investigations unit, police force, and separate units in police stations.
A report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) claims that since the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, at least 150 individuals have been arrested on charges of debauchery.
However, despite the crackdown, last June, Egypt condemned the deadly attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida that left many dead or injured.