LGBT Rights in the New Egypt

Rasha Moumneh of Human Rights Watch recently gave a really good interview on The Gist on what the Egyptian Freedom Movement means for LGBT Egyptians. She talked about the use of debauchery laws to misdirect people away from the malfeasance of the state, typified by the Queen Boat trials. She also correctly notes that Arab culture is infused with homoerotic imagery and actions.

A scholar like Khaled El-Rouayheb argues that what we now call homosexuality was much more accepted in the pre-modern Islamic period. And Alaa Al-Awany’s wonderful novel The Yacoubian Building shows what an open secret homosexuality is in Egypt. 

More importantly, and credit to the interviewer Michelangelo Signorile for doing his homework, she moves away from the ikhwanophobia framing of the revolt. What that means is that we actually have to engage with what a revolution for rights actually means.

Whether the movement will result in a fully liberal democratic state remains to be seen, but because it is being led by a younger generation who tend to be more open, we can remain hopeful. However, class continues to play a huge role in this movement, and there is no clear positivist political platform yet.

The interview is fairly nuanced and really worth listening to.

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