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Egyptian Authorities Arrest Nine Men for 'Inciting Debauchery' Over 'Gay Marriage' Video

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Egyptian authorities have arrested nine men on charges of inciting debauchery and undermining public morals for appearing in a video purporting to show the country's first gay marriage, Reunters reports:

The footage, which was posted on YouTube, appears to show a group of men celebrating a gay wedding on a Nile riverboat.

The public prosecutor's office said in a statement late on Saturday the party took place in April but the footage went viral in August, causing the police to take action to identify the men.

The statement said the images were "humiliating, regrettable and would anger God," concluding that they constituted a criminal act and would be investigated.

Watch the alleged 'gay marriage' video, AFTER THE JUMP...

AFP adds:

Prosecutors have also ordered "medical tests" of the men –  a longstanding practice in Egypt to allegedly identify homosexuals that has been denounced by human rights groups. 

Back in April, we reported on gays in Egypt observing increased rates of arrests by government officials. 

Continue reading "Egyptian Authorities Arrest Nine Men for 'Inciting Debauchery' Over 'Gay Marriage' Video" »


Grindr Addresses Security Breach, Rolls Out Easily Bypassed Patch: VIDEO

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Grindr’s administrators temporarily disabled the popular hookup app’s location-awareness features yesterday afternoon following widespread concerns about a security exploit that exposed 600,000 users’ exact locations worldwide regardless of their privacy settings. The flaw in Grindr’s infrastructure allowed anyone, including people not using the service on a phone or tablet, to triangulate a specific users precise location by pinging Grindr’s servers. Though popularly thought to be a predominantly western app, Grindr boasts a global userbase of over 6 million people, many of whom are logging on from within countries with explicitly homophobic laws.

After discovering the potential security breach, an anonymous European Grindr user took to demonstrating just how easy it was to parse out other users’ personal information. Despite being alerted to the problem, Grindr’s developers initially responded to the backlash by asserting that the application was merely functioning the way it was meant to.

The sudden shutdown of the app’s location functionality was seemingly meant to address the bug. However, hours after users were able to seek one another out from their phones, America Blog’s John Aravosis easily found other users in Brunei, Russia, and Iran. This raises particular concerns in light of a slew of Grindr-assisted arrests in Egypt. Rather than fully patching the problem, Grindr’s development team has implemented a series of roadblocks:

"It appears, according to the anonymous Grindr user who uncovered the security breach, that Grindr is blocking the IP address of anyone attempting to find the exact location of its users. (Grindr is also requiring you to register a new account before massively [violating] the privacy of their users.) But if Grindr thinks this is a sufficient fix, they might want to have a chat with the following gay men I just found in Tehran and Brunei. All you have to do, apparently, is create a new IP address and a new account, and voila, you’re in."

It is important to note that Grindr users who disable their location sharing from within the app should be protected from the break.

Watch a video demonstrating the Grindr security breach AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: Grindr has issued a statement on the security concerns:

"In light of recent security allegations surrounding a user’s specific location, Grindr has made modifications to no longer show distance information for users.  Grindr will continue to make ongoing changes to keep all users secure, as necessary."

Continue reading "Grindr Addresses Security Breach, Rolls Out Easily Bypassed Patch: VIDEO" »


Gays in Egypt Observing Increased Arrests by Government

Recent arrests in Egypt have the gay community there very worried, the Guardian reports:

EgyptActivists interviewed by the Guardian said they had documented up to nine raids across the country since October 2013 – an unusually high rate of arrests. Most significantly, at least seven raids have seen people arrested at home rather than at parties or known meeting places, raising concerns that the community is facing the start of a targeted crackdown.

The latest and most concerning raid saw four men seized from their east Cairo apartment on 1 April within hours of signing the lease, according to activists. Within a week, the four were given jail terms of up to eight years – sentences unusual for both their length and the speed at which they were handed down.

No one seems to be sure of the reason behind the increasing arrests but there are a few hypotheses:

 Some think the raids are simply another example of the aggression aimed at all kinds of dissidents in recent months. Also, several of the raids may have been caused by complaints from neighbours, rather than instigated by the state itself.

...Many wonder if the government wants to assure a largely homophobic Egyptian society that – despite ousting Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last summer – they can be as conservative as the man they replaced. April's arrests, for instance, came soon after a police chief announced a special taskforce to arrest atheists.

or...Another explanation is that widespread coverage of the raids would help distract the public from the government's failings – much as the media storm sparked by the 2001 arrest of 52 men at the Queen Boat, a gay nightclub in Cairo, did for Hosni Mubarak's regime.


Egypt Sends Four Men to Prison for Homosexual Acts

Egypt has sentenced four men to prison for homosexual acts, the BBC reports:

EgyptThe men were accused of attending or arranging "deviant" sex parties, and dressing in women's clothes and wearing make-up. Egyptian law does not explicitly ban homosexual acts, but prosecutors have used legislation banning debauchery to try homosexuals.

The verdict has been condemned by human rights campaigners.

One of the men was jailed for three years with hard labour by the court in Cairo. US-based Human Rights First group said it was "alarmed and disappointed" at the verdicts.

More from Human Rights First:

Human Rights First today expressed serious concern over news reports that three Egyptian men have been sentenced to eight years in prison and a fourth man sentenced to three years in prison for “homosexual acts.” The men were convicted by an Egyptian court today for violating Article 9(c) of Law 10/1961, which provides a penalty of up to ten years for “habitual debauchery.”
 
“We are alarmed and disappointed to hear of the verdict convicting these men based on their sexual orientation and identity.” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “Egypt is a bellwether state in the Arab region; what happens in Egypt sets a trend for developments throughout the Arab world.   The United States has a long-standing, close and complex relationship with Egypt, and it must use its leverage to protest the expansion of the crackdown on political dissent and now LGBT people. We urge the Obama administration to immediately condemn this ruling and to calculate these latest sentences in its assessment of how to take concrete steps to advance human rights and the rule of law in Egypt.  When President Obama spoke in Cairo in 2009 about protecting ‘the principles of justice and progress; tolerance and dignity of all human beings’ he certainly meant all Egyptians, including LGBT people.”

HRF says arrests of LGBT people have increased dramatically since Morsi was ousted in 2013.


Gay Filmmaker John Greyson and ER Doctor Tarek Loubani Freed by Captors in Egypt

John Greyson and Dr.Tarek Loubani, who have been detained in Egypt and held in horrid condidtions since August 16, when they were held during violent anti-government protests in Cairo, have been freed, the AP reports:

Greyson_loubani“I look forward to Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson being reunited with their families and friends, who have shown tremendous strength during this difficult time,” Lynne Yelich, a junior minister responsible for consular affairs said in a statement late Saturday.

Mr. Greyson and Mr. Loubani were released Sunday morning — Cairo time — but there has been no confirmed word on exactly when they will be returning to Canada.

There was no immediate comment on their release from the two men’s families.

Mr. Greyson, a Toronto filmmaker and Mr. Loubani, an emergency room doctor from London, Ont. have said they planned to stay in the Egyptian capital only briefly on their way to Gaza last month.

Friends and family have been campaigning for their release and last week published a letter written by the men from the jail where they were being held. It described their arrest and the beatings they endured.


Egypt Extends Detention of Gay Filmmaker John Greyson and ER Doctor Tarek Loubani for Another 45 Days

Gay Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, an ER doctor, who were detained on August 18 in Egypt while filming a documentary during the security crackdown by the military-led government and held without charges since then, are to be held for another 45 days, according to friends and family campaigning for their release:

Greyson_loubaniAn Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman, speaking to Reuters, confirmed the men would be charged with “participating in an illegal demonstration”. The spokesman, in the same interview, indicated that prosecutors were considering espionage charges against the two Canadians based on “surveillance equipment” they found in their possession.

Canada's Prime Minister has called for their immediate release.

The  filmmakers began a hunger strike nearly two weeks ago, and wrote a letter released by relatives and friends detailing the abuse and "ridiculous conditions" of their detention.

The letter was written from a jail cell in Cairo where they are being held. The letter describes the details of their arrest and beatings they have endured:

The protest was just starting — peaceful chanting, the faint odour of tear gas, a helicopter lazily circling overhead — when suddenly calls of “doctor.” A young man carried by others from God-knows-where, bleeding from a bullet wound. Tarek snapped into doctor mode and started to work doing emergency response, trying to save lives, while John did video documentation, shooting a record of the carnage that was unfolding. The wounded and dying never stopped coming. Between us, we saw over fifty Egyptians die: students, workers, professionals, professors, all shapes, all ages, unarmed. We later learned the body count for the day was 102.

We left in the evening when it was safe, trying to get back to our hotel on the Nile. We stopped for ice cream. We couldn’t find a way through the police cordon though, and finally asked for help at a check point.

That’s when we were: arrested, searched, caged, questioned, interrogated, videotaped with a ‘Syrian terrorist,’ slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot-boxed, refused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, accused of being foreign mercenaries. Was it our Canadian passports, or the footage of Tarek performing C.P.R., or our ice cream wrappers that set them off? They screamed ‘Canadian’ as they kicked and hit us. John had a precisely etched bootprint bruise on his back for a week.

We were two of 602 people arrested that night, all 602 potentially facing the same grab-bag of ludicrous charges: arson, conspiracy, terrorism, possession of weapons, firearms, explosives, attacking a police station.

Greyson is perhaps best known for his criticism of the Toronto International Film Festival for "for celebrating films from Tel Aviv. Greyson withdrew his own film from the festival, criticizing Israel's settlement strategy in Gaza," according to Yahoo News.

Read the filmmakers' full letter, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Egypt Extends Detention of Gay Filmmaker John Greyson and ER Doctor Tarek Loubani for Another 45 Days" »


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