Egypt puts 17 men on trial for homosexuality

Egypt puts 17 men on trial for homosexuality
2 min read
01 October, 2017
Egypt put seventeen men suspected of being homosexuals on trial on Sunday, for alleged "debauchery" and "incitement to debauchery", judicial sources said.

Homosexuality is highly taboo in Egypt among Muslims and minority Christians alike [AFP]

Seventeen men suspected of being homosexuals went on trial in Egypt on Sunday for alleged "debauchery" and "incitement to debauchery", judicial sources said.

No further information was provided and the hearing was closed to journalists.

Defence lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

Homosexuality is not expressly outlawed in Egypt, but gays have previously been charged with debauchery in the deeply conservative Muslim society.

The trial comes after at least six people were arrested by security forces for holding a rainbow flag representing lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at a concert by Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila in Cairo on September 22.

"The fact that Egypt's public prosecutor is prioritising hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable," Amnesty International said in a statement.

The Egyptian authorities' use of smartphone dating apps such as Grindr to find LGBT people and raids on places they frequent has sparked panic in the community.

On Saturday, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation banned "any promotion of homosexuality" in the media, describing it as a "shameful sickness".

"We have identified at least 22 people who have been arrested since the (Mashrou' Leila) concert," said Dalia Abdel Hamid of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

Last week, rights group appealed to the Egyptian government to stop its repression of homosexuals.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called on Egypt to halt anal examination of those detained on suspicion of homosexuality - a procedure used to determine whether they engaged in same-sex sexual relations.

They said the practice amounted to torture and called it "abhorrent" and scientifically unsound.

"The fact that Egypt's Public Prosecutor is prioritising hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable. These men should be released immediately and unconditionally – not put on trial," said Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty International.

"Forced anal examinations are abhorrent and amount to torture," Bounaim said.

"The Egyptian authorities have an appalling track record of using invasive physical tests which amount to torture against detainees in their custody," she added.

"All plans to carry out such tests on these men must be stopped immediately."

In April 2016, 11 men suspected of being gay were sentenced to 12 years in prison for "inciting debauchery", triggering widespread international condemnation.