EGYPT: TO SERVE AND PROTECT OR TO DISCRIMINATE AND PUNISH?

Egypt: Article 9(c) of Law No. 10/1961 (on Combating Prostitution, Incitement and its Encouragement) makes the “habitual practice of debauchery [fujur]" an offence.

This case study highlights an example of the use of another law (in this case relating to homosexuality) to criminalize those living with HIV and further marginalize – and stigmatize – people vulnerable to and affected by HIV. In this case, it is not the transmission of HIV that is criminal, it is simply living with HIV – ‘proof’ enough that ‘debauchery’ has occurred.

In 2007, police in Egypt launched a crackdown and have arrested people they suspect are living with HIV. To date 12 men have been prosecuted, nine of whom have been convicted and sentenced on charges of ‘habitual debauchery’. Some of the men tested positive to HIV and there is evidence of men having been tested without their consent, allegedly beaten by police as part of the interrogation process, and chained to their hospital beds.

The authorities are using the positive HIV-status of men as proof of their having sex with other men, an illegal act under Egyptian law, and they have been subsequently charged with the ‘habitual practice of debauchery’. This has been met with widespread condemnation from the international human rights community, but such policies are yet to be repealed. By directly associating men who have sex with men with being HIV positive the authorities are compounding stigma related to both.

Find out more

Read: 'Egypt police widen HIV arrests'

Read: 'Egypt accused of indifference to justice and public health'

Human Rights Watch's Report, 'Egypt: Stop Criminalizing HIV'

 

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