There are currently no specific venues for gay men or lesbians in Cairo. In the past, venues such as Harry’s Pub at the Marriott Hotel were popular, but that all changed in 2001 when police raided the Queen Boat floating disco, which was popular with both gay and heterosexual couples. Homosexuality as such is not illegal in Egypt, but 52 gay men (“the Cairo 52”) were arrested, slung in a cell and charged with offences such as “debauchery” and “contempt of religion”, some receiving three-year prison sentences as a result. The religious lobby were delighted, but the gay scene made itself as invisible as possible, and any events that began to attract a gay crowd were quickly closed. After the revolution, things semed to relax for a bit, but the rise to prominence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists does not bode well. There’s been a lesbian scene in Cairo since at least the middle ages, but it’s always been more discreet than the gay male scene, and even harder for foreigners to make contacts in.

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