A court in Egypt convicted eight men on November 1 for inciting debauchery after they attended a gay wedding party on a Nile boat. Each of them now has to serve three years in prison. The video that went viral on the internet earlier this year shows two men exchanging wedding rings and embracing one another in the presence of cheering friends. Eight of those seen in that video were detained in September after Egypt’s chief prosecutor released a statement saying the video is “shameful to God” and also “offensive to public morals.”
The verdict was delivered amidst protesting screams by relatives of these eight men who had assembled outside the courthouse in Cairo. While some broke down in tears, others screamed that medical examinations carried out by doctors prove the defendants are not gay. While inside the defendants’ cage, the eight men were seen covering their faces with their baseball caps or bare hands but once the verdict was announced, they were seen hiding behind paper or cloth, as the police led them out.
Egypt is an orthodox country, mostly inhabited by Muslims with a minority Christian population. Homosexuality is perceived as a taboo way of life by both communities and only recently have gay characters been included in movies and fiction. Even though consensual gay marriage is not particularly prohibited in Egypt, lawmakers often use other laws including “shameless public acts” and “debauchery” to imprison gay men, which is why same-sex marriage is unheard of in the country.
This verdict is only the last one of many such crackdowns that has been carried out by authorities against homosexuals. Human Rights Watch said earlier this year that Egypt’s authorities have repeatedly arrested and persecuted men suspected of being gay.
In April this year, four men were not only convicted but also sentenced for eight years after allegedly organizing parties that involved homosexuals. They were found guilty of debauchery after women’s clothing and makeup were found at the location. In fact, in 2001, 52 men were arrested at a restaurant on a Nile boat after being accused of participating in a gay sex party. The arrests were followed by a highly publicized trial that led to the conviction of 23 men. They were sentenced to one to five years on grounds of contempt of religion and immoral behavior.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia