CAIRO: Prosecution authorities ordered Saturday the detention of nine men, seven of whom were already in custody, who appeared in a video allegedly celebrating a gay marriage on a boat in the Nile.
The men are charged with offending public and social morals.
The prosecution described the act as a sin that “angered God,” and the party as “satanic,” and considered the video an incitement to disrupting social order. After identifying the nine men and detaining them for four days pending investigations, authorities announced a trial before a criminal court, according to an official prosecution statement published by Al-Watan Saturday.
One of the men who allegedly appeared in the video spoke to television presenter Tamer Amin on the Rotana Masriya channel and accidently disclosed his identity, despite the fact Amin abstained from saying the man’s real name to protect his privacy.
The man denied being homosexual, or that the celebration was a wedding party. He said it was nothing more than a birthday party, and swore to God he was not gay. He said he had bought a cake and a silver ring as a gift for his friends.
In the video, which went viral on social media channels last week, a group of men appear to be celebrating the union of a homosexual couple exchanging rings and kissing. It is likely that the video was not intended for broadcast and that the people in it did not know they were being filmed, as the person who took the video appears to be hiding the camera, and the people in it use foul language and insults they might not have used had they known it was going to be made public.
Amin introduced his guest by saying, “Let’s hear his justification,” referred to the incident as a “scandal” and asked questions about why there were no women at the party, and why the men kissed.
Amin directly asked his interviewee if he was gay, phrasing the question as “are you a decent man?” He also asked if the man was married and told him he wanted to witness his marriage to his girlfriend, adding that he would go to any place “except the Nile.”
“I am scared to walk in the streets, I want to tell people that I am not gay,” the man stated.
Several incidents of police cracking down on allegedly gay parties took place on boats in the Nile, the most famous one being the arrest of 52 men in a raid on the Queen Boat in 2011. Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report in 2004 titled “In a Time of Torture,” in which it provided an account by one of the men involved in the case, stating that prosecutors charged them with “habitual practice of debauchery.”
The Egyptian State and society are harsh on nearly all sexual freedoms, driven by Islamic values which do not recognize homosexual relationships as legitimate. People who come out about their homosexual preferences are subject to social persecution. In fact, prosecution authorities claimed Friday they received a formal complaint in a police report filed against the men in the video.
Despite the fact no legal text specifically bans homosexuality in Egypt, gay marriage is not legal and people can still be convicted of public indecency. However, the debate is not LGBT rights’ focused, because there is a crackdown on any relationship that is not a marriage between one man and one woman, or one man and more than one woman—up to four—as polygamy is allowed and legal.
The criminal code has two articles on indecency, one if committed in public and the other in private. Those convicted of either crime could be jailed for more than a year or fined up to 300 EGP ($42). But, indecency is not clearly defined, and couples—married or unmarried—typically avoid hugging and kissing in public altogether.
In 2012, a scandal broke over the arrest of an MP from the Salafist Nour Party when he was reportedly caught red-handed in an “indecent situation” with a young girl. They were both sentenced to three months in prison by a misdemeanor court in November of that year.