Graeme Reid, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights director at HRW, said that “Egypt’s government, evidently not satisfied jailing opposition members, students, and human rights activists, has found the time to prosecute Egyptians allegedly videoed participating in a same-sex wedding”.
The men were arrested, subjected to anal examinations, and preventative detention after a video of an unofficial same-sex wedding went viral on social media.
The court also ordered the men to be put under probation for another three years after they serve their sentences.
Reid added that the court’s sentencing “is the latest signal that the new government will prosecute anyone to try to bolster its support”.
Solidarity with Egypt LGBT, a campaign to reach out to LGBT movements and individuals worldwide about LGBT issues within Egypt, issued a statement affirming deep concern about the sentencing, adding that the court’s ruling shows “the frailty of the Egyptian judicial system”.
The group added that arrests and prosecutions of people who are expressing their most fundamental rights “stand as ugly marks not only on the deteriorating situation for human rights in Egypt, but also on the fragile political scene which continues to fall apart.”
After the arrests took place last September the movement launched a campaign against the persecution of LGBT people in Egypt on 18 October, calling for demonstrations in front of every Egyptian embassy around the world to “protest against human rights violations committed by the Egyptian government, relying on unlawful and unethical media tools, towards those of differing sexual orientations and gender identities”.
In Egypt, no specific law outlaws homosexuality. However, in most cases the prosecution uses article 9 of law number 10 released in 1961, which is concerned with “debauchery”, to convict people accused of engaging in homosexuality.
The law is most frequently used to accuse defendants of prostitution.
However, in this particular case, an Egyptian lawyer told Daily News Egypt that the defendants were not found guilty of “debauchery”, but rather of “inciting debauchery”, because of the viral social media diffusion of the unofficial same-sex wedding video. The lawyer requested anonymity due to security concerns.