March 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Egyptian police arrest seven ‘transsexuals’

Cairo, Egypt, gay news, Washington Blade

Egyptian police last week arrested seven “transsexuals” in a Cairo neighborhood popular with tourists. (Photo by Evan Hill of Al Jazeera English via Wikimedia Commons)

Reports indicate that Egyptian police late last week arrested seven “transsexuals” in an area of Cairo that is popular with tourists.

Al-Youm al-Sabah, an Egyptian newspaper, reported members of the country’s Morality Police arrested the seven people who were part of what it described as a “network of debauchery in Cairo.”

Major Gen. Magdy Moussa of the Morality Police told Al-Youm al-Sabah that his investigators had proof the seven people who were arrested had “published nude photos of themselves” on their social media networks. The newspaper further reported the officers also created “fake websites” to follow up on the activities of the “perverts,” according to what former Human Rights Watch staffer Scott Long wrote on his blog.

Moussa told Al-Youm al-Sabah that his officers “coordinated meetings” with the seven people who were arrested at a nightclub along Al-Haram Road in Giza. Long wrote the television station reported they were told “at the end of the evening they would be taken to apartments to participate in debauchery.”

Al-Youm al-Sabah broadcast a video that shows the video of the seven people talking with the police.

The newspaper blurred the faces of those who were arrested, but it did not attempt to obscure their identities in a picture it posted on its Facebook page.

U.S. companies to participate in economic development conference

The arrests took place less than two months after a court acquitted 26 men who were charged with “debauchery” in December after police raided a Cairo bathhouse.

Mona Iraqi, a reporter for a pro-government television station who broadcast video of the raid on her program, came under fire from Egyptian LGBT rights advocates and others for tipping off authorities after she and a cameraman tried to enter the bathhouse. One of the men who was arrested during the raid told El-Watan, an Egyptian newspaper, during an interview it published last month that he tried to take his own life because of harassment he said he experienced from his co-workers at the Cairo restaurant where he works.

“It’s becoming clear that the acquittals in January did not signal a slow down on the arrests of Egyptians perceived to be LGBT,” Ty Cobb of the Human Rights Campaign told the Washington Blade on Sunday.

Edgar Vasquez, a spokesperson for the State Department, told the Blade his agency is “following the case closely and seeking additional details.”

“We condemn any violence, discrimination, or legal action against individuals based on their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Vasquez. “The United States places great importance on the protection and promotion of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, around the world.”

Long and other advocates with whom the Blade has spoken in recent months indicate persecution of LGBT Egyptians has increased since el-Sissi ousted Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013.

The U.S. during the 2014 fiscal year gave $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, with the majority of it going to the country’s military. The State Department in January told the Blade that more than $7 million of this allotment went to “other security assistance programs.”

El-Sissi later this month will host an economic development conference at the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Coca Cola International President Ahmet Bozar, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, Lazard CEO Kenneth Jacobs, Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies CEO Shashi Buluswar and Cloudera Chief Technology Officer Amr Awadallah are among those from the U.S., U.K. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Italy, Jordan, Germany, China, Switzerland and Kenya who are scheduled to speak at the gathering. Former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, who is now the vice chair of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup, is also scheduled to attend the conference.

“Egypt is working to attract new international investment in the country but these arrests demonstrate that the country is not ready for investors who care about the human rights of LGBT people,” Cobb told the Blade.

Citigroup, Coca Cola and General Electric all received a perfect score on HRC’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index that ranks businesses based on their policies towards LGBT employees.

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

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