According to investigations by BBC Arabic in Egypt, criminal gangs have been targeting the LGBT+ community, leading to a police pursuit(this is confusing, are gangs working with the police and is the police pursuing these gangs to punish them, the rest of the article does not talk about the gangs?). These gangs are exploiting and victimising individuals they’ve trapped through online dating apps, as well as committing theft, extortion, and abuse.
BBC exclusively acquired records illustrating how the police utilise dating and social apps to track and apprehend members of the LGBT+ community based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, creating a hostile environment that offers no space for concealment or reporting of any violations against them.
In September 2017, during a Mashrou’ Leila concert, more than 70 individuals were arrested for raising rainbow flags showing escalating crackdowns on LGBT+ groups in the Middle East and North Africa. During this period, dating apps were employed extensively to target many detained people. Patterns of arrests emerged: “Security forces use fake profiles to pose as individuals interested in relationships. Furthermore, mobile phones are inspected at police checkpoints, and government operatives even infiltrate group chats to build cases against LGBT+ communities. Local groups have long been aware of these abuses, but there’s been a lack of concerted efforts to assist those targeted. Meanwhile, similar cases of exploitation are on the rise in other countries.”
This occurs in the absence of specific laws concerning the LGBT+ community, as religious laws are often being implemented. Meanwhile, Law No. 10/1961, aimed at combating debauchery, is selectively used to target individuals with different sexual orientations and gender identities. Same-sex relations in Egypt are reportedly punishable by up to three years in prison.