The U.N. has issued a stern rebuke against the recent harassment and arrests of LGBT people in three largely Muslim countries.
“We are deeply concerned by a wave of arrests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia of more than 180 people perceived to be [LGBT],” said U.N. human rights spokesperson Rupert Colville.
“Arresting or detaining people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is by definition arbitrary and violates international law.”
In Azerbaijan, U.N. experts reported, some 80 people thought to be gay or transgender have been arrested in the past month. Some reportedly have been subjected to beatings and electric shocks, with the heads of trans women forcibly shaved.
In Egypt, where a conviction on sodomy charges can land you in prison for up to six years, seven people were arrested after rainbow flags flew at a Cairo rock concert. In the days that followed, police arrested more than 50 alleged homosexuals, in some cases entrapping them via dating apps and chatrooms. “Arresting and detaining people for legitimately expressing themselves—including by displaying a rainbow flag—is also arbitrary and violates individuals’ right to freedom of expression,” says Colville.
While homosexuality is not illegal in most of Indonesia, the government has banned LGBT representations in the media, including Grindr and queer emojis. Last week more than 50 men were arrested in a raid on a gay sauna in Jakarta. While a majority have been released, several were charged with violating the vague “Law on Pornography,” used to arrest people for consensual same-sex relations.
The particulars in these attacks differ, but the pretenses for them are flimsy or outright false: Charges of prostitution, debauchery or “hooliganism.” Victims are pressured to reveal the names of other alleged homosexuals and frequently face physical violence and forced anal examinations.
“Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia should take immediate action to release anyone detained on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Colville, calling for discriminatory laws to be repealed.
At the same time, the White House, the State Department, and U.N. Representative Nikki Haley have been largely silent about these atrocities against the global LGBT community.
The last time Haley addressed LGBT rights was two weeks after reports of anti-gay pogroms in Chechnya.
“We continue to be disturbed by reports of kidnapping, torture, and murder of people in Chechnya based on their sexual orientation,” Haley wrote in a statement in April. “We are against all forms of discrimination, including against people based on sexual orientation.”
Guess that’ll just have to hold us for a while, huh?