Ministry to investigate NGO over awareness programs for same-sex partners

Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity is investigating a nongovernmental organization (NGO) after receiving a complaint that it is involved in promoting safe sex among same-sex partners and raising awareness regarding sexually transmitted diseases.


The ministry received an official complaint from a concerned citizen who argued that the NGO is violating Law 84 (2002) regulating NGOs.


According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Social Solidarity on its official website on Saturday, Minister Ghada Wali referred the NGO for formal investigation. If found to be in breach of the law, the ministry may move to close the organization.


The complainant argued that the NGO in question has specifically violated Article 11 of Law 84, which states that, “Associations shall not be allowed to conduct any of the following practices or activities: Threatening national unity, violating public order or morality.”


While the NGO in question has not been identified by name, the state-owned Al-Ahram news portal reported on Sunday it is based near Al-Haram Street in Giza.


Citing sources from the Ministry of Social Solidarity, Al-Ahram reported that the complainant secretly filmed a session at the NGO, which allegedly reveals “NGO members teaching same-sex partners lessons in safe sex.”


Ministerial sources added that the NGO is involved in “warning citizens about the fatal dangers of HIV and AIDS, as well as means of prevention.”


A medical specialist involved in STD awareness raising campaigns told Mada Masr, “These are flawed procedures. Taking punitive measures against NGOs on the basis that they teach same-sex partners about safe sex will only serve to increase the likelihood, occurrence and spread of STDs.”


The health campaigner added that such measures do not help to protect (but rather hinder) national unity, public order, and morals — as stipulated by Law 84.


This specialist, whose name is being withheld, as he has not been authorized to speak to the media, added, “The ministry may do as it pleases in accordance with the law. However, as it cannot end or change people’s sexual orientation, it should strive to promote safe sex, for the sake of public health and national wellbeing.”


“This is not the only NGO involved in safe sex awareness. Several other NGOs provide similar services. On an official and national level, the Ministry of Health takes the lead in raising awareness regarding HIV/AIDS and other STDs.”


Nonetheless, the legal standing of both the NGO in question and its members, will be determined by the Ministry of Social Solidarity.


The privately owned Al-Watan newspaper described the NGO as one that “teaches sexual deviants about safe sex.” Al-Watan warned that this NGO might eventually serve as “an assembly center for sexual deviants.”


Quoting ministerial officials, Al-Ahram reported that the Ministry of Social Solidarity has authorized the dissolution of 400 NGOs and civil society organizations over the past 30 days, due to legal, administrative and financial violations.


In the first two months of this year alone, the ministry has moved to dissolve a total of 380 NGOs.


Many, if not most, of these dissolved NGOs have been linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which the state officially classified as a terrorist organization in December 2013.


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