Six men have been arrested in Egypt and are facing an invasive rectal and anal examination in a crackdown against gay people.

Amnesty International has reported that six men in Egypt have been arrested and are facing “invasive forensic anal examinations” to prove their homosexuality.

The arrests, on the evening of 27 September, came shortly after Egypt’s chief prosecutor announced an investigation in response to a public backlash against a recent concert in Cairo by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Laila where members of the crowd raised a rainbow flag.

Days after the rainbow flag was raised, Egyptian authorities began arresting men on charges of “debauchery”, the first of which, a 19-year-old man was sentenced to six years in prison, followed by six years of probation.

The Rainbow flag is seen as an international symbol of LGBT+ rights and equality. Egypt has no LGBT+ protections and same-sex sex between men although not specifically outlawed can be punished under morality laws.

Two other men who were arrested earlier this week and are currently detained in Agouza police station in Cairo are due to stand trial on 11 October. Another two men were arrested on 28 September and are detained in Dokki police station.

Although not specifically outlawed, gay sex can be punished under morality laws with punishments including imprisonment of up to 17 years,  hard labour and fines. The country has abysmal legal protections for LGBT+ people.

“Forced anal examinations are abhorrent and amount to torture”

The Forensic Medical Authority is due to subject the six men to anal examinations to determine whether they have engaged in same-sex sexual relations. Amnesty International believes that such examinations violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law.

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“The fact that Egypt’s Public Prosecutor is prioritizing hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable. These men should be released immediately and unconditionally – not put on trial,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

“Forced anal examinations are abhorrent and amount to torture. The Egyptian authorities have an appalling track record of using invasive physical tests which amount to torture against detainees in their custody. All plans to carry out such tests on these men must be stopped immediately.”

Human rights violations

According to AI, anal examinations violate the UN Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The UN Committee against Torture has emphasized that they “have no medical justification and cannot be consented to fully.”