An Egyptian court on Saturday convicted eight men for “inciting debauchery” following their appearance in an alleged same-sex wedding party on a Nile boat, sentencing each of them to three years in prison.
The Internet video shows two men exchanging rings and embracing among cheering friends.
The eight were detained in September when a statement from the office of Egypt’s chief prosecutor said the video clip was “shameful to God” and “offensive to public morals.”
Egypt is a conservative majority Muslim country with a sizable minority of Christians. Homosexuality is a social taboo for both communities and only in recent years fiction and movies have included gay characters. Consensual same-sex relations are not explicitly prohibited, but other laws have been used to imprison gay men in recent years, including “debauchery” or “shameless public acts.” Same-sex marriage is unheard of in Egypt.
The verdict was received with protesting screams by relatives waiting outside the Cairo courthouse court. Some of them broke down and cried while others protested that medical examinations carried out by state doctors showed the defendants were not gay.
While inside the defendants’ cage for the hearing, the eight buried their heads in their hands or hid their faces under baseball caps. They covered their faces with pieces of cloth or paper when they were led by police out of the cage after they heard the verdict.