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Implications for Rights and Freedoms

Rainbow Flag Case

Court / Presiding Judge

Pretrial proceedings

Procedural History

On October 1, 2017, two defendants were arrested. On January 2, 2018, they were released on LE1,000 bail each, pending further investigations.


The case has not been referred to trial.

Summary of Reasoning

This case dates back to a concert by Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila in which a rainbow flag was raised. The defendants, Sarah Hegazy and Ahmed Alaa, faced possible charges of joining an outlawed group with the aim of disrupting societal cohesion and inciting debauchery.

Anecdotal Notes

Following the Mashrou’ Leila concert, a national crackdown against the Egyptian LGBTQ community and its allies ensued. At least 75 individuals were arrested in different cases relating to this incident. The most common charges brought against them were habitual debauchery and inciting debauchery. At least a few of these cases resulted in sentences. Additionally during this time, the Supreme Council of Media Regulation issued a media gag on homosexuality (except when it was talked about as a disease or something that individuals were repenting from), and the parliament drafted a homosexuality law. The draft legislation, however, was not passed. The two defendants in this case, Ahmed Alaa and Sarah Hegazy, have both moved to Canada. As of June 2018, Sarah was seeking asylum, and as of March 2019, Ahmed had received his citizenship papers. They each suffered physical and emotional trauma while in prison.

Legal & Judicial Implications

Although homosexuality is not explicitly illegal under Egyptian law, the state has often criminalized it through charges such as debauchery. The spike in debauchery arrests and charges during Sisi’s presidency raises serious questions regarding Egypt’s commitment to preserving an individual’s right to privacy, freedom of expression, and right to be free from discrimination.