After a rainbow flag was spotted at a concert in Cairo last month, the government launched an anti-gay witch hunt that has seen dozens of men arrested. As many are victims of entrapment, dating apps like Grindr and Scruff are sending warnings to users in the region on how to protect themselves.
“The police are under pressure to arrest people and they are going about it through all the avenues that they have,” Grindr’s Jack Harrison-Quintana told Reuters.
Written in Arabic, the tips includes seeing if you and a potential hookup have friends in common and meeting virtually through video before an in-person encounter.
Some 70 people have been arrested since September, with more than 20 receiving jail sentences ranging from six months to six years.
“The scale of the latest arrests highlights how dangerously entrenched homophobia is within the country,” said Amnesty International’s Najia Bounaim. “No one should be punished for expressing solidarity with LGBT individuals or based on their perceived sexual orientation.”
The secrecy under which gay men operated in Egypt makes it harder to create a safe environment for dating. While homosexuality is not technically against the law, gay men are often charged with debauchery and other vague offenses. Hornet president Sean Howell told Reuters the site wants to protect users without “causing fear.”
“We are being cautious. We have not received many reports from users that make us think that the security online is worse than before.”