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Egypt launches bid to ban atheism over fears it turns people gay

Meka Beresford December 24, 2017
Australian Marriage Equality

(Photo: SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt has announced a bid to ban atheism in the hopes that it will stop people from “turning” gay.

The parliamentary commission on religion has said that plans to make “promotion of atheism” illegal will be pushed.

church of england same-sex marriage
(Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

It comes as the commission ruled that atheism can cause “mental imbalances” which in turn leads to homosexuality.

The bid is one of a number of moves being carried out by Egyptian authorities in a crackdown on the LGBTQ+ community.

The country has seen 34 people arrested and imprisoned for offences linked to homosexuality, including debauchery, inciting sexual deviancy and joining an outlawed group.

Related: No-one is talking about Egypt’s shocking homophobic purge

It is believed that the commission hopes that by pushing through the law it will support the bid of another law which has been deemed the most homophobic law in the world.

The second law which is currently being pushed through targets the community by punishing gay sex in a public or private place with a prison sentence ranging from one to three years.

The measure was introduced by MP Riyad Abdel Sattar, a politician leading the rhetoric that those who identify within the LGBTQ+ realm have a “disease”.

As well as criminalising gay sex it also puts journalists and activists at risk of covering LGBTQ+ events as it threatens conviction.

Related: Four people have just been imprisoned for homosexuality in Egypt

It is so extreme that even someone in possession of a rainbow flag could be imprisoned under the law.

The bill states: “Individuals that incite same-sex relations, either by inciting, facilitating, hosting, or calling for, even if they don’t perform the act itself, will be punished to prison…as well as shutting down the venue.

“It is strictly prohibited to carry any symbol or sign of the homosexual community, as well as it’s prohibited to produce, sell, market, or promote such products.

“Violators will be sentenced to prison for a period no less than one year and no more than three years.”

The crackdown on the LGBTQ+ community in Egypt has been condemned worldwide.

Human Rights Watch worker Sarah Leah Whitson said: “Repression will not turn gay people straight. It will only perpetuate fear and abuse.”

Related: Egyptian police use Grindr to lure gay men to hotel rooms

Eight Egyptian men on trial for doing a video prosecutors claimed was of a gay wedding hide their identities as they sit in the defendent's cage during their trial in Cairo on November 1, 2014. The video, filmed aboard a Nile riverboat, shows what prosecutors said was a gay wedding ceremony, with two men in the centre kissing, exchanging rings and cutting a cake with their picture on it. The Egyptian court jailed the eight men for three years. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Eight Egyptian men on trial for filming a gay wedding, 2014 (Getty)

Egypt’s authorities are deliberately fuelling a homophobic ‘moral panic’ in order to build support for a homophobic crackdown, a report has alleged.

There has recently been a dramatic surge in arrests of gay people in Egypt, fuelled in part by the country’s media.

Sources on the ground have repeatedly raised the alarm about Egypt’s so-called ‘Public Morality Investigation Unit’, which actively targets the gay community with raids and entrapment.

The situation worsened in September this year, when the waving of a rainbow flag at a music concert was extensively derided in the press – leading to a dramatic crackdown.

A report released by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights charts the horrific extent of the crisis.

It said: “The EIPR has observed an exponential increase in the number of individuals arrested because of their private sexual practices and/or sexual orientation.

“In what is now known as the as the Public Morality Investigation Unit’s campaign against LGBTQ individuals and men who have sex with men or those perceived as such.”

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