International business leaders have been urged to address the plight of LGBT people at an Egyptian economic conference this week.
A number of prominent executives are scheduled to speak at the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) being held in Sharm El-Sheikh from 13 to 15 March.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has written to these high-level private sector speakers calling on them to raise the issue of Egyptian human rights abuses in the context of foreign investment.
“The Egyptian government needs to understand that the violence and discrimination directed at LGBT people and civil society must end now,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global.
“Many of these business leaders represent companies that have demonstrated a commitment to LGBT inclusion in the workplace. We hope they use this conference as an opportunity to articulate the fact that systemically suppressing civil society and oppressing minorities is not only wrong, it is bad for business.”
According to the EEDC website, the purpose of the conference is to “reposition Egypt on the global investment map and affirm its potential as a source of political and economic stability in the region and a trusted partner on the international stage.”
Speakers at the conference include representatives from companies and organisations such as BP, Coca Cola, IMF, Microsoft, PepsiCo and Unilever.
“As long as Egypt continues to harass and imprison people for who they are, it is not a winning investment,” said Cobb. “We urge speakers at the conference to use their leverage to discuss the economic benefits that accrue from an inclusive and open political environment.”
Over the last year the Egyptian authorities have been conducting a widespread crackdown against the LGBT community, including using social media and dating apps to entrap and arrest LGBT people.
Two weeks ago, it was reported that the authorities created fake social media pages to lure seven people to a Cairo nightclub, where they were arrested for “gay debauchery”.
Police have also conducted a number of raids on bathhouses in order to arrest men believed to be engaging in gay sex.
In November, eight men who appeared in an apparent gay wedding video were jailed for three years. Their sentence was later reduced to one year by an appeals court.
While homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, gay people are targeted through immorality or public indecency laws.
by Mamba Writer
Source – Mamba Online