The Oval Office has yet to speak out on the numerous arrests of LGBTQ people amidst a violent crackdown in Egypt, but the country’s government has the ear of at least one Trump confidant: Tony Perkins.
The Family Research Council president met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Nov. 1 to discuss what Perkins describes as the “plight of religious minorities” in the Muslim-majority country. The two men convened for a three-hour conversation at the presidential palace in Cairo, as the Christian Post reports.
The Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, which claims that homosexuality is “harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large,” has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“[Same-sex activity] is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects,” the group claims.
Perkins, who has compared LGBTQ people to drug addicts, is a close advisor to President Donald Trump. He is largely credited as the architect of Trump’s ban on open trans military service, which was partially blocked by a federal court on Oct. 30. Perkins has also pushed for a “religious freedom” order put forward by the Department of Justice that may allow LGBTQ federal employees to be fired on basis of employers’ “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The 54-year-old wasn’t the only notorious anti-LGBTQ figure present at the Wednesday meeting.
Perkins was joined by Michele Bachmann, a former House representative; Rev. Johnnie Moore, a one-time advisor to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson; Jerry Boykin, a retired lieutenant general; and Mario Bramnick, an evangelical pastor at Florida’s New Wine Ministries Church.
Bachmann, who ran for president in 2012, has claimed that LGBTQ people are “part of Satan.” Moore once served as the vice president of Liberty University. Boykincriticized the Pentagon for recognizing June Pride month, which he claimed was the result of a lack of “courage” from State Department officials who weren’t “stopping this stuff.” Following the 2015 passage of same-sex marriage, Bramnick’s church hosted a reception on the “demonic shift” in the United States.
While a litany of anti-LGBTQ bigots hold a private convening with Egyptian leaders, advocates are pressing the president to take action against mass detentions in the North African country.
More than 100 people were arrested following a Sept. 22 concert in which fans of the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila held a rainbow flag in support of the LGBTQ community. Although homosexuality is legal in Egypt, detainees have been prosecuted under an archaic 1961 law forbidding “debauchery.”
As the crackdown persists, Egyptian legislators have moved to pass an unprecedented, extreme law that would both criminalize homosexuality and penalize any pro-LGBTQ expression.
The Human Rights Campaign is urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to take action.
“The U.S. response to this wave of anti-LGBTQ violence has been far too weak,” president Chad Griffin says in a press release. “[…] We urge you to personally speak out. Doing so will save lives. When you are silent, the perpetrators of this violence see America not as a moral leaderbut as a government that will look the other way.”
“There are countless livesin these countries and many others across the globedepending on America’s action and leadership,” he continues.
Despite Trump’s “promises to be a friend” to the LGBTQ community, it took Tillerson four months to address the purge of gay men in Chechnya with Russian authorities. At least three men have been killed and more than 100 arrested in an anti-LGBTQ extermination campaign led by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. The president has yet to condemn the violence.
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