An Egyptian judge has sentenced eight men to three years in prison each for appearing in a video of what appears to be a gay wedding party on a riverboat on the Nile. The eight men identified in the video have been convicted of “inciting” debauchery and spreading “indecent” images, and will be subject to police supervision after their release.
The one-minute video, which was recorded last August, shows two men exchanging rings and chastely kissing on what appears to be a boat on the Nile. A group of men are shown in the video, loudly cheering them on.
After the video went viral, Egypt’s public prosecutor issued a public statement condemning the men for recording the footage, arguing that the video was “humiliating, regrettable, and would anger God.” He ordered investigators to arrest the men in the video and to conduct physical examinations of them, including “forensic anal examinations,” which are often used by Egyptian authorities as proof that men have engaged in anal sex but are roundly decried by most international human rights groups.
For their part, the men in the video maintain their innocence, with one of the defendants calling in to a popular Egyptian talk show to deny that he was gay and to claim the video was not taken at a wedding party, but at a birthday party. A spokesman for Egypt’s justice ministry forensics department also told the Guardian that the “entire case is made up and lacks basis,” and that the men’s anal examinations “showed that the eight defendants have not practised homosexuality recently or in the past.”
While gay sex is not explicitly outlawed in Egypt, gay marriage is illegal and the LGBTQ community is often targeted by Egyptian police forces, who often call for raids and crackdowns on notorious gay hotspots. One such crackdown, which took place in 2001 on a gay boat cruise called the Queen Boat, resulted in the arrests and trials of 52 men.