In recent news, Egyptian police are reported to be using gay dating apps to hunt down and arrest homosexuals:
It’s an alarming story, but a common one. As LGBTQ Egyptians flock to apps like Grindr, Hornet, and Growlr, they face an unprecedented threat from police and blackmailers who use the same apps to find targets. The apps themselves have become both evidence of a crime and a means of resistance. How an app is built can make a crucial difference in those cases. But with developers thousands of miles away, it can be hard to know what to change. It’s a new moral challenge for developers, one that’s producing new collaborations with nonprofit groups, circumvention tools, and a new way to think about an app’s responsibility to its users.
Most arrests start the same way as Firas’ story. Targets meet a friendly stranger on a gay dating site, sometimes talking for weeks before meeting in person, only to find out they’re being targeted for a debauchery case. The most recent wave of arrests started last September after an audience member unfurled a gay pride flag at a rock concert, something the regime took as a personal insult. More than 75 people were arrested on debauchery charges in the weeks that followed.
Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Egypt, but the LGBTQ community has become a useful scapegoat for the el-Sisi regime, and the General Directorate for Protecting Public Morality is being used to jail and prosecute anyone perceived as committing a transgression. Even when the charges don’t stick, charges can be used as a pretense for public humiliation, weeks of imprisonment, or even deportation. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) has documented more than 230 LGBTQ-related arrests from October 2013 to March 2017, which is more than in the previous 13 years combined.
For those in the community, the threat of violence is hard to escape. “I froze as a human being for a while,” one Egyptian called Omar told me. “I lost my sexual drive for a long time. There were so many horrific stories about people being imprisoned or blackmailed or put under some sort of pressure for their sexuality. It was disturbing.”
Egypt’s state media has largely cheered on the crackdown, treating a 2014 raid on the Bab al-Bahr bathhouse as more of a tabloid drama than a human rights issue. Raids on bars, house parties, and other gay spaces have become common. “There’s this sense of society wanting to publicize anything that’s private for the LGBTQ community,” Omar says. “It becomes hard to discriminate what’s private and what’s public.”
As a result, channels for private communications like dating apps Grindr and Hornet are particularly important here. And to different extents, both platforms feel that they have some responsibility for keeping their users safe. In the weeks after the September crackdown, both Grindr and Hornet began sending out warnings through their apps, notifying users of the crackdown and giving the same advice about retaining a lawyer and watching for police accounts. The messages served as a kind of early warning system, a way to spread news of the new threat as quickly as possible.
Since 2014, Grindr has warned Egyptian users about blackmailers and recommended keeping their account as anonymous as possible. If you check the app in Cairo, you’ll see a string of anonymous pictures. Some users even create profiles to warn others that a specific individual is a blackmailer or a cop. On Hornet, more than half the accounts have pictures, though many stay obscured. One Egyptian man told me that when he visited Berlin on vacation, he was shocked to see that every Grindr profile had a face; it had never occurred to him that so many people might out themselves online.
Pulling out of countries like Egypt would certainly make business sense: none of the countries involved are lucrative ad markets, particularly when you factor in the cost of developing extra features. But both apps are fully convinced of the value of the service they’re providing, even knowing the dangers. “In countries where it’s unsafe to be gay, where there are no gay bars, no inclusive sports teams, and no queer performance spaces, the Grindr app provides our users with an opportunity to find their communities,” Quintana-Harrison told me. Leaving would mean giving that up.
When Howell visited Egypt in December for Hornet, he came away with a similar conclusion. Hornet has made some small security changes since the trip, making it easier to add passwords or delete pictures, but the bulk of his work was telling users what was happening and pressuring world leaders to condemn it. “[Egyptian users] don’t want us to shut down,” he told me. “Gay men will not go back into the closet. They’re not going to abandon their lives. They’re not going to abandon their identity even in the harshest conditions. That’s what you’re seeing in Egypt.”
He was more skeptical about the value of the new security measures. “I think a false sense of security can put users in harm’s way,” Howell said. “I think it’s far more important to teach them about what the situation really is and make sure they’re aware of it.”
That leaves LGBTQ Egyptians with a fear that can build up in unexpected ways. It hit Omar a few weeks after the first raids this fall. It felt like there was a new arrest every day, and no place left that was safe. “I was walking down the street, and I felt like there was someone following me,” he told me. When he turned around to check, there was no one there. “It was in that moment that I realized I am afraid for my life. The situation is not safe here in Egypt. It’s actually dangerous. And then I decided, if it’s actually dangerous, then it’s time to speak out.” (source)
Homosexuality is a sin that is worthy of death, condemned in the Old and New Testaments as such and by all of the Church councils. One cannot be a Christian and support homosexuality.
Shoebat.com has exclusively discussed the connection between Islam and homosexuality, and how Islam is a very pro-LGBT religion in spite of the common diatribe that “Islam hates gays.”
At the same time, there are many people of good will in the Muslim world who are against homosexuality because it is evil. This is to be commended, and it is something that more Christian people in the Western world should pay attention to lest they suffer the judgment of God.
God is righteous and holy, and he desires that people do his will. A major part of that will is to avoid sin, and not to embrace it. Sadly, the “Christian” world is today for the most part in a state of apostasy, for while there have always been problems, these problems have now taken over the entire society and are being legislated into the social fabric to the derogation of Christian teaching explicitly.
Islam is an evil religion, but the fact remains that in many ways, many Muslims are more righteous than Christians because they seek to live a moral life even if their religion is misguided and in so doing are attempting to live the faith they have.
Christians in the west are increasingly speaking with an inclination towards license to sins such as homosexuality, and many of those who do speak out are quick to recant in the face of social pressure or to “lighten” up.
If homosexuality is truly evil and it necessitates people to stand against it, Christians must stand regardless of what others think. To act in such a way is not “extreme” in the objective sense, because it is simply professing what the faith already teaches and if anything is a testament to the integrity of the person rather than any sort of “extremism.” What is extreme is that which is normal, which is the license to sin and for those who are said to be against a sin, to simply collapse under harassment from without.
The Western world is being overrun by Muslims, and in a great part because Christians are believers in name only and is evidenced by their actions. The Muslims are a scourge, but just as God allowed the Assyrians and Persians to overrun Israel for their sins, so is the Western world being allowed to be overrun by the Muslims, the enemies of the Faith, for her persistent infidelity and apostasy.