A Cairo appeal court reduced Saturday the sentence of eight defendants charged with “perversion and offending public morals”, from an initial sentence of three years, according to state media.
The defendants were previously given a sentence of three years, after being found guilty of “inciting debauchery”. The sentence was passed after a video of an unofficial same-sex wedding showing the two defendants allegedly celebrating their marriage on a boat went viral on social media.
The prosecution described the celebration as “a devilish shameless party”. However Hisham Abdel Hamid, spokesman for the forensic department, previously told Daily News Egypt that based on the results of medical tests, the nine defendants are “not homosexuals”.
The sentences were heavily criticised by Human Rights Watch.
In the first week of December, Police raided a bathhouse in Ramses, near Cairo’s main railway station, and arrested 25 men on charges of “debauchery” and organising same-sex “orgies”.
The defendants stood in front of a court last week, amid chaotic courtroom scenes. The trial has been postponed until 4 January, while the men remain in custody.
A report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) on Saturday claims that since the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi 18 months ago, at least 150 individuals have been arrested on charges of debauchery. Gay rights activists have stated that the atmosphere towards homosexuality is worse now than under the Muslim Brotherhood rule of 2012-13.