COP27 in Egypt Subjects LGBTQIA+ Climate Activists to Human Rights Abuses

A banner says that COP27 will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 event will take place Nov. 7-18 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
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The annual UN Conference of Parties to negotiate international climate policy is supposed to be held in different countries and continents in order to make it easier for activists from otherwise overlooked regions (the global south) to attend.

This year’s COP27 is in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and while the African placement, Yessenia Funes at Atmos writes was “meant to represent a win for climate justice as it should make attendance more accessible to activists and advocates from the region,” the reality is that “the Egyptian government’s history of violating human rights, as well as its disregard for other African countries, complicates any sense of victory climate justice might’ve felt.”

Two gay climate activists have announced their refusal to attend unless it’s moved, calling it a betrayal of the community and “inherent discrimination.” Elijah Mckenzie-Jackson and Jerome Foster II realized when planning to attend that Egyptian law enforcement has detained, assaulted and tortured LGBTQIA+ people. “I just had the courage to come out to my parents this year,” Foster told Atmos, “and it’s terrifying for me to have to go through that experience again of trying to hide myself to conform to society.”

While he and Mckenzie-Jackson are calling on the UNFCCC to move the conference, others are calling for the “government to release its political prisoners and create a safe environment for advocates long after COP27 ends,” hoping that COP27 will be “a rare opportunity to find solutions to the country’s human rights crisis” and that the international attention can be leveraged “so that no person in Egypt has to live in fear any longer.”

Foster and Mckenzie-Jackson share that aim in their effort to “raise concerns about the lived reality queer people, women, and activists experience every day inside of Egypt.” Yasmin Omar, UN manager for the Committee for Justice, is calling for Egypt to release political prisoners, but hopes are fading fast as she “had hoped to see more people released from prisons” and are now “believing that this chance will not really give us the exposure we needed.”

For a deeper dive: Atmos

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