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Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court: Engagement in Homosexual Acts is Grounds for Dismissal from Public Office

In a recent ruling in July 2023, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court, the highest court within Egypt’s administrative court system, upheld a decision from a lower court that determined that suspicion of engaging in homosexual activities warrants termination from public office.

The case involved an employee of Maspero, Egypt’s public broadcaster, who was accused by his former spouse of participating in homosexual acts. This allegation led to his suspension from his job pending an investigation. In July 2021, Egypt’s Administrative Prosecution Authority requested his dismissal from public employment, contending that the employee had engaged in homosexual acts that were deemed inappropriate for a public servant. They asserted that this act constituted a violation of his professional responsibilities and referred the case to the Disciplinary Court to render a verdict.

The primary evidence presented by the prosecution was a one-minute and 17-second video provided by the former spouse, depicting the employee in a state of nudity while inserting a small bottle into his anus. The prosecution consulted a forensic expert who determined that the video was genuine and not manipulated in any way. The accused denied any involvement in homosexual activities and maintained that he may have been under the influence of drugs or incapacitated at the time the video was recorded.

In June 2023, the Disciplinary Court rendered its decision to terminate the employment of the accused due to his involvement in homosexual acts. The court justified its ruling by stating that such acts contravene Articles 57 and 58 of Egypt’s Civil Duty Law No. 81/2016. Article 58 states that “Any employee who deviates from their job duties or conducts themselves in a manner that undermines the dignity of their role will be subject to disciplinary punishment.” Article 57 stipulates that “The employee must adhere to the provisions of this law, its implementing regulations, as well as other laws, regulations, decisions, and instructions issued in accordance with it. They must also comply with any codes of conduct and ethical standards issued by the relevant minister. Specifically, the employee is prohibited from engaging in activities that compromise impartiality, neutrality, or job commitment during official working hours. Furthermore, they are prohibited from engaging in any partisan or political work within their workplace, or while performing their duties, or from soliciting donations or contributions for political parties, or disseminating or promoting propaganda.”

The plaintiff lodged an appeal against this decision to the Supreme Administrative Court, which delivered its judgment in July 2023. The plaintiff’s defense contended that the ruling should be overturned on the grounds of the legal doctrine of fruit of the poisonous tree, as the video evidence had been acquired unlawfully by the ex-wife. They further argued that the plaintiff recorded the video with no intention of publicly disseminating it, asserting that the ex-wife violated his right to privacy and that the evidence had been illegally obtained and publicly dismantled to the prosecution against the plaintiff’s well.

Before rendering a judgment, the case was referred to the Egyptian State Commissioners (ESC), a consultative judicial body within the Administrative Courts system. The ESC is tasked with aiding judges in deciding cases by providing objective judicial opinions and legal interpretations on matters that lack legal clarity. The ESC issued a report recommending that the plaintiff be reinstated to his position, as the video had been procured illegally and the ex-wife’s actions constituted violations of several provisions within the Cybercrime Law No 175/2018, which safeguards citizens’ right to digital privacy.

Despite the positive report from the ESC, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the judgment terminating the plaintiff’s employment, affirming that there was irrefutable evidence of the plaintiff engaging in homosexual acts and that “removing such an employee from the state’s administrative apparatus has become an unavoidable necessity to preserve the safety of the administrative facility in particular, and the public interest of the state in general.”

This judgment sets a perilous precedent by deviating from established legal principles. In Egypt, queer individuals can face prosecution under provisions of the anti-sex work law No 10/1961 regarding debauchery. Charges related to debauchery fall under the category of dishonorable offenses in Egyptian law, which can result in dismissal or disqualification from public office.

However, in this particular case, the plaintiff has not been accused of debauchery, and furthermore, there is no evidence confirming that the plaintiff had engaged in homosexual activities. The provided video solely depicted solo sexual activities by the plaintiff, which do not substantiate that he ever engaged in any such acts with others. Moreover, the Court disregarded the fact that the ex-wife herself is criminally liable for unlawfully obtaining and disseminating a private video of her husband. Even if the plaintiff had sent the video to her in confidence, this does not grant her the right to publicly disseminate it, as it is still safeguarded by the privacy provisions outlined in the Cybercrime Law.

Therefore, this judgment establishes a precedent that even without officially being charged with “debauchery,” individuals suspected of engaging in homosexual acts can be dismissed from public office. This type of reasoning has gained traction with the Egyptian judiciary in recent years. Previously, Egypt’s Administrative Courts interpreted Articles 25 and 26 of Law No. 89 of 1960 on the Entry and Exit of Foreigners to mean that individuals suspected of engaging in homosexual acts or being queer should be deported from the country, even if they were never formally charged with “debauchery” or even acquitted by a court of such charges. Furthermore, recent judgments from Egypt’s Economic Courts have also issued interpretations of Article 25 of the Cybercrime law in relation to violating family values, which includes engaging in homosexual acts.

Thus, it is evident that there is a growing trend within the Egyptian judiciary to reinterpret moral and public order clauses in Egyptian laws to explicitly target queer individuals or those engaging in homosexual acts, even when the evidence is not sufficient to prove such acts. This makes suspicion alone grounds for applying the law, highlighting the increasing socio-religious bias within the Egyptian judiciary against queer people. These unfavorable interpretations lack a legal basis.


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