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Grindr issues warning to Egyptian LGBT users

 A demonstrator makes a sign August 15, 2001 in New York City to show support for the 52 allegedly gay men who were arrested in Cairo, Egypt for "performing immoral acts."
A demonstrator makes a sign August 15, 2001 in New York City to show support for the 52 allegedly gay men who were arrested in Cairo, Egypt for "performing immoral acts."
(Spencer Platt/Getty)

Grindr is issuing warnings to its Egyptian users to "be careful about posting anything that might reveal [their] identity," as you can see from the following image obtained by The Independent:

The warning comes at a time of a well-documented rise of LGBT hostility in Africa. As Quartz notes, "A crackdown [on LGBT people] is underway across the region."

To be sure, Grindr's move is preemptive: to our knowledge, Egypt has not yet made any arrests related to the gay app. At the same time, there is a growing concern that law enforcement might use social media sites to arrest gay people.

Last Thursday, an Egyptian court sentenced six gay men to two years prison time with labor for "committing debauchery" after the court determined the men "were promoting their apartment as a location for homosexual activity through Facebook, charging $200 a night," al-Ahram reported.

As Buzzfeed's J. Lester Feder writes, Egypt's current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has "stepped up" arrests of LGBT people. "Since October," writes Feder, "around 80 people are known to have been arrested on allegations of homosexuality." That number includes eight men who were arrested earlier this month for appearing in a video on YouTube allegedly depicting a gay marriage ceremony.

Under Egyptian law, though gay marriage is illegal, homosexual activity is not expressly forbidden. However, as al-Ahram notes, Egyptian authorities have sometimes arrested LGBT people on "morality charges" — for example, debauchery or contempt of religion. The most notable recent instance is the 2001 arrest of 52 men accused of "fomenting strife" while floating down the Nile on a disco boat. Though there was no "unusual behavior" on the boat, as one witness told The Guardian, the accused were nonetheless charged with "performing immoral acts."

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