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Security forces have also detained people at their homes in the middle of the night, and have used apps and online chat rooms to entrap those believed to be gay.

“The rainbow flag incident has made the public furious, and this gave an opportunity for the government and state security to start the arrests,” said Mohamed, an Egyptian gay rights activist who requested that his last name be withheld for security reasons.

As of Tuesday, at least 20 people in Egypt had received prison sentences ranging from six months to six years, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said, including four people who were sentenced Saturday to three years each.

The crackdown is the latest sign of the repression of political and social freedoms under the government of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.

Activists say that many in their community have left the country in recent weeks — or are considering doing so soon.