Just two months after a massive crackdown on homosexuality, 16 men have each received prison sentences in a Cairo court for “inciting debauchery” and “abnormal sexual relations”.
The men have reportedly been freed on bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds pending appeals for each case.
Persecution was ramped up on the LGBT community after a photo of a rainbow flag being waved by an audience member at a Mashrou’ Leilia concert in September saw more than 70 people arrested under a 1961 prostitution law that allows authorities to charge people suspected of engaging in consensual homosexual conduct with “habitual debauchery”.
Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Egypt, however, Amnesty International claims that more than 60 members of the Egyptian parliament are proposing a new law that would criminalise same-sex sexual activity.
The bill proposes jail time for up to five years imprisonment for first-time offenders and up to up to 15 years if an individual is convicted on multiple charges of same-sex sexual activity. “Promoting or inciting homosexuality” is also punishable by up to five years in prison.
Convicted individuals could face three years imprisonment for public promotion or advertising of any LGBT gatherings or parties, including on social media or displaying LGBTI symbols or signs, or producing, promoting, selling, or marketing LGBT products.
Authorities in Egypt do not deny that they are deliberately targeting LGBT people, with state media claiming that it’s a public duty to tackle the spread of homosexuality.