Before Omar leaves home in the morning, he carefully uninstalls the apps on his phone one by one — no WhatsApp, no Facebook, no Grindr.

"The paranoia is constant," said the 19-year-old gay Egyptian man, who asked the Thomson Reuters Foundation not to identify his hometown or real name for his safety.

If a policeman searched his phone, a single WhatsApp conversation or Facebook selfie could be enough to see Omar prosecuted under laws banning "debauchery" and "prostitution" — regularly used in Egypt to criminalize citizens for being gay.