January 2, 2018 at 12:15 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Egypt court releases two people arrested for raising rainbow flag at concert

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An Egyptian court has released two people who were arrested after they raised a rainbow flag at a concert in September. (Photo by Ted Eytan; courtesy Flickr)

An Egyptian court has released two people who raised a rainbow flag during a Cairo concert in September.

Egyptian Streets — which describes itself as an “independent, young and grassroots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets” — on Tuesday reported the Giza Criminal Court released Sarah Hejazy and Ahmed Alaa on $56.37 (1,000 Egyptian pounds) bail.

Hejazy and Alaa were among the seven people who were arrested for raising a rainbow flag during the concert that featured Mashrou’ Leila, a Lebanese rock band with an openly gay lead singer. Egyptian Streets reported authorities charged Hejazy and Alaa with “joining outlawed groups that aim to disrupt the provisions of the constitution and the law.”

The arrests took place against the backdrop of the Egyptian government’s ongoing anti-LGBT crackdown.

The Human Rights Campaign and Amnesty International have said dozens of LGBT Egyptians have been arrested since the concert, with many of them undergoing so-called anal tests to determine whether they engaged in same-sex sexual activity. Egyptian lawmakers in October introduced a bill that seeks to criminalize the country’s LGBT community.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have publicly called upon the Egyptian government to end the crackdown.

Dozens of members of Congress last month urged Vice President Pence to raise the issue when he visits Egypt.

Pence was scheduled to travel to Egypt and Israel before Christmas, but he postponed his trip because of the final vote on a tax bill in Congress. Reports indicate the trip has been postponed indefinitely.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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