The High State Security prosecution is to investigate debauchery charges against seven people arrested on Monday for raising a rainbow flag during a concert in Cairo.
Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadeq ordered the investigations “into the party recently held by a group of gay people,” state news agency MENA reported.
During Friday’s concert by Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, the symbolic rainbow flag was raised among the audience. Since then, public controversy erupted over the acceptance of homosexuality and gay people’s rights, where public and religious figures, as well as local media, led a fierce campaign against the issue, calling for punishment to those who raised the flag.
There is a crackdown on homosexuality in Egypt, but charges are often based on debauchery rather than the law, as there is no legal text that specifically bans homosexuality.
Although homosexuality is not explicitly prohibited by law, prosecutors use a 1961 law against debauchery and a 1950 anti-prostitution law to pursue homosexuality. In several cases over the past years, defendants were charged with public indecency and inciting debauchery.
Most recently, government officials have been monitoring and making fake accounts on dating applications such as Grindr to arrest gay users.
Moreover, a conservative religious speech strictly opposes recognition of homosexual rights, making those who publicly announce such sexual preferences subjects of controversial in the media and social media outlets.
Recently, there were similar reactions to the rainbow flag raise when gay Egyptian Dalia Al-Faghal coming out as lesbian, despite that she doesn’t live in Egypt.