Egypt Hub

Egyptian Men Involved in 'Gay Wedding' Video Receive One Year Prison Sentence Each


The group of eight men arrested in Egypt for appearing in a video back in September purportedly featuring a gay marriage have had their jail sentences reduced from 3 years each to one year each by an Egyptian appeals court.

The men were originally convicted in November of broadcasting images that "violated public decency" after video surfaced of what prosecutors said was a gay wedding ceremony aboard a Nile riverboat. 

AFP reports:

The defendants' families, who were expecting their acquittal, screamed and wept on hearing the new sentences, according to an AFP reporter.

Homosexuality is not specifically banned under Egyptian law and the men were initially accused of debauchery.

That charge was dropped after an invasive anal exam of the men showed that they did not have receptive anal sex.

The defence repeatedly denied that the men were gay, and insisted that the lower court had caved in to popular pressure.

One of the defendants told a television talk show prior to their arrest that the video was recorded during a birthday party.

Earlier this month, Egyptian police raided a bathhouse in Cairo and arrested a large group of men on charges of "perversion".

Swiss Film Festival Defends Homophobic Egyptian Reporter Involved in Gay Bathhouse Raid


Mona Iraqi, an Egyptian reporter for the pro-government Al-Qahira wal Nas channel, is a homophobe. We reported on her the other day for leading Egypt's morality police in a raid on a gay bathhouse earlier this month. It turns out that she is also the Egyptian representative for Shnit, an International Short Film Festival based in Switzerland, directed by Olivier van der Hoeven. One would think that an organization from the relatively liberal Switzerland would distance themselves from someone who would engage in outright discrimination against LGBT people, but instead the organization is doubling down on defending her.

IraqiShnit insists that Iraqi was investigating sex trafficking and prostitution in Cairo, although that doesn't jibe with the statement of her segment claiming to expose "the secret behind the spreading of AIDS in Egypt." Shnit staffer, researcher and project coordinator Ekaterina Tarasova, jumped in by tweeting in Mona Iraqi’s defense, starting with a blasé-sounding dismissal of "It's her work, I guess" before going fully tone-deaf with "Looks like you miss the point of Mona's research. It was about prostitution" and "And yes, I will defend Mona's position, because I believe she did right things."

Tarasova shortly found herself on the receiving end of some backlash from Middle Eastern GLBT activists, which she tired to smooth over by claiming to be a "tolerant and gay friendly person" in a tweet with a rainbow flag. Because, as A Paper Bird author Scott Long snarked, "The rainbow flag always makes everything better."

Trials for the 26 arrested men are scheduled to begin Sunday.

Egyptian TV Reporter Broke Law In Filming Raid Of Gay Bathhouse, Activist Groups Say: VIDEO


An Egyptian TV reporter broke the law when she disseminated information about some of the more than two dozen men arrested in a raid of a gay bathhouse on Dec. 7, according to a statement from activist groups

Mona Iraqi, a reporter for the pro-government Al-Qahira wal Nas channel, can be seen filming the arrests on her mobile phone above. Iraqi had tipped off Egypt's morality police about the bathhouse and accompanied them on the raid, according to reports. 

Iraqi“With pictures, we reveal the biggest den of group perversion in the heart of Cairo,” Iraqi (right) later wrote on Facebook, where she posted photos from the raid. The Facebook post has since been removed.

A trailer promoting Iraqi's investigative report said it would reveal "the secret behind the spreading of AIDS in Egypt,” and she defended the three-part series an interview with Voice of America.  

But 10 activist groups from the Middle East and North Africa have issued a statement accusing Iraqi of criminal conduct. The statement was published by Cairo gay activist Scott Long's A Paper Bird:

"Besides prying into people’s intentions and their private, consensual practices, this presenter clearly violated articles 75 and 58 of the law of criminal procedures: these prohibit anyone from disseminating information about persons arrested by the police to others who do not have standing in the case. We demand that the presenter, Mona Iraqi, be held accountable before the law for misusing her profession to violate the privacy of others and slander and misrepresent them, and for pursuing professional benefit regardless of consequences."

The raid was part of a horrific, unprecedented crackdown on LGBT people by the Egyptian government under President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who seized power last year. According to the activist groups, more than 150 people have been arrested on the assumption that they are gay or transgender — even though homosexuality is not technically illegal — since June 30, 2013: 

"In some cases prison sentences of eight or nine years have been imposed, on legal grounds that are incorrect or fabricated. The arrests have been accompanied by a still more monstrous media crusade, publicizing the personal information of those arrested, publishing their pictures, even posting filmed interviews with them. The media present homosexuals as a group of 'sick' individuals and criminals in need of therapy — or paints them as a deviant community that spread after the revolution."

In September, Grindr sent a message to all Egyptian users warning that police officers may be “posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you.” And on Nov. 1, eight men were sentenced to three years in prison after taking part in an alleged same-sex wedding which was recorded and posted to YouTube.

Following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, LGBT people in Egypt hoped for freedom under a new democracy, The Washington Post reports. But those hopes have been dashed as as-Sissi aims to distract people from Egypt's economic woes and appear as socially conservative as the Muslim Brotherhood from which he seized power.  

Once in police custody, LGBT prisoners are often subject to anal examinations, beaten and threatened with rape, The WaPo reports. They are reluctant to contact their families due to the social stigma of homosexuality, and few attorneys will represent them.  

Sadly, al-Sissi's government is funded in part by the US. The Washington Blade reports that the State Department issued a statement in response to the bathhouse raid, but officials have not said whether the US will cut funding to Egypt, as it did in response to Uganda's anti-homosexuality law. From The Blade:  

The U.S. during the 2014 fiscal year gave $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, with the majority of it going to the country’s military. The State Department said more than $7 million of this allotment went to “other security assistance programs.” 

Watch the first part of Iraqi's report, for which she is getting hammered on her Facebook page, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Egyptian TV Reporter Broke Law In Filming Raid Of Gay Bathhouse, Activist Groups Say: VIDEO" »

Egyptian Police Arrest Large Group Of Men At Bathhouse 'Group Sex Party'


Egyptian police raided a bathhouse in Cairo on Sunday night and arrested a large group of men on charges of “perversion,” reports Buzzfeed.

Egyptian television reporter Mona Iraqi posted images of the raid on Facebook revealing “the biggest den of perversions in the heart of Cairo.”

According to Iraqi, her team had notified police “about what is happening in the baths” on December 3rd but Al-Qahira wal Nas television waited to broadcast their report “to give security institutions a chance to close down the baths.” She added that the group of men were “caught in the act during a group sex party” and “immediately transported to the prosecution with no clothes.”

She has promised to reveal “the whole story of the dens spreading AIDS in Egypt” tomorrow.

The arrests come as part the crackdown on LGBT rights under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

In September, Grindr sent a message to all Egyptian users warning that police officers may be “posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you.”

On November 1st, eight men were sentenced to three years in prison after taking part in an alleged same-sex wedding which was recorded and posted to YouTube.

European Union Rules Asylum Seeker Tests For Homosexuality Unlawful


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today ruled that gay asylum seekers do not need to undergo a test to prove they are homosexual, reports Big News Network.

The ECJ had ruled last year that persecuted gay people from Africa have grounds for asylum.

Due to severe anti-gay laws in a number of African countries there has been an increase in the number of asylum seekers in the European Union (EU).

The decision came after three men failed in their attempts to seek asylum in the Netherlands after the Dutch court ruled they had not proved their sexuality.

The ECJ said determination of a refugee's sexuality must be in accord with EU law and cannot infringe on rights to privacy and dignity. The court added authorities can discuss sexual matters with asylum seekers but cannot ask about personal sexual practices or demand "medical tests" or recordings of sexual acts.

However, the court also found that although “the starting point in the process of assessment,” a mere declaration of homosexuality, is insufficient grounds for asylum.

In September, Egypt’s Forensic Medicine Authority found that nine men are “not homosexuals” after they had appeared in a recording of a “gay marriage”.

#StandForEgyptLGBT Embassy Protests Slated For October 18th

EgyptLast month eight gay Egyptian men were arrested and “tested for homosexuality” after appearing in a video in showing a gay marriage. Though homosexuality is not explicitly illegal within the country, authorities cited “inciting debauchery” as their reasoning behind bringing the men to trial.

Queer-rights supporters have rallied in response to the men’s arrests, organizing coordinated both physical and online protests on various social networking platforms around the hastags  #StandForEgyptLGBT and #SolidarityWithEgyptLGBT.

"We invite you to participate in the demonstration that will take place on 18 October 2014 in front of every Egyptian embassy around the world [if accessible] to protest against human rights violations committed by the Egyptian government,” Solidarity With Egypt organizers wrote in an online statement. “relying on unlawful and unethical media tools, towards those of differing sexual orientations and gender identities."

#StopBlueCoat, a third hashtag protesters are rallying behind is a direct reference to Blue Coat Systems, an American security firm based in California that is responsible for providing Egypt with much of its surveillance technology. Blue Coat recently began the process of distancing itself from its Egyptian business connections facing backlash following a Buzzfeed article.


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