Egyptian security flank 52 suspected homosexual men accused of sexual immorality as they arrive at a Cairo court November 14, 2001. REUTERS/Aladin Abdel Naby.
CAIRO, Nov 1 (Aswat Masriya) – The Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanour Court sentenced on Saturday eight men to three years in prison on charges of inciting debauchery and violating public decency after appearing in a Youtube video depicting an alleged homosexual marriage ceremony.
The video, titled "Egypt's first gay marriage", has stirred controversy after going viral on social media late August. A group of young men were filmed celebrating what appeared to be a wedding proposal between two men on a Nile boat.
The prosecutor general had ordered the eight men to undergo examination by forensic experts. He urged their swift referral to criminal prosecution in order to "safeguard the values of society and implement justice." The prosecution referred them to trial on September 22.
One of the defendants denied to the Saudi-owned satellite channel Rotana that the video depicted a "homosexual marriage." He said in early September that he was celebrating his friend's birthday in the video.
The trial was condemned by domestic and international civil society organisations. International watchdog Human Rights Watch had called for the defendants' release. The organisation condemned the Egyptian authorities' "persecution" of men "suspected of homosexual conduct" in a statement released on September 9.
Hisham Abdel Hameed, the Forensics Authority spokesman had declared the men as "normal" on September 8, not demonstrating signs of homosexuality, after undergoing physical examination.
Human Rights Watch condemned the physical examination the defendants were subjected to, saying it "violates international standards against torture."
In 2001, 52 men were arrested in Egypt after the police raided a Nile boat restaurant where the men were said to be engaging in a "gay sex party", dubbed as the Queen Boat Trials. Twenty-three of the defendants were sentenced to prison for "immoral behavior and contempt of religion."
Article 9 of the 1961 Anti-Prostitution Law punishes those guilty of "inciting debauchery and immorality" by imprisonment for a period ranging from three to five years.