CAIRO, Jan 19 (Aswat Masriya) - A Cairo misdemeanour appeals court reversed on Tuesday a six-month prison sentence previously handed to an Egyptian journalist who had reported “a gay bath house orgy” to the police in late 2014.
The court acquitted female journalist Mona Iraqi of charges of defamation and “publishing false information” in the case known in Egyptian media as the “bab al-bahr bath house” case.
Iraqi sparked controversy when she filmed a Vice Police raid on a men’s bath house after she tipped off the police about the "practice of homosexuality" inside the bath house.
In the wake of Iraqi’s show, the prosecution arrested 26 persons over holding a “gay bath house orgy”. The owner and four other person were accused of running the place to "practice, facilitate and incite debauchery." The 21 other men were accused of "debauchery" and violating public decency.
They were all acquitted in January 2015.
Their 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.
Human Rights Watch condemned the physical examination the defendants were subjected to, saying it "violates international standards against torture." Men arrested for alleged homosexual behaviour usually undergo anal examination.
Egyptian laws do not specifically crimanilise homosexuality, but 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.