Egypt sentences 14 men to three years’ jail for homosexuality

An Egyptian court on Sunday sentenced 14 men convicted of being homosexuals to three years in jail each for “abnormal” sexual relations, a defense lawyer said.

Ishaq Wadie said the men were released on bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($283) each until an appeals trial.

The trial of three other suspects was delayed over procedural reasons, the lawyer said.

Homosexuality is not expressly outlawed in Egypt, but gays have previously been charged with debauchery in the deeply conservative Muslim society.

In recent months, authorities have cracked down on people who practice so-called “abnormal” sexual relations, which in Egypt means homosexuality, or for inciting debauchery.

The stepped-up measures follow an outdoor concert in Cairo on September 22 by Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, when the flag representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community was raised. The band tackles issues of sexuality and politics and its frontman is openly gay.

Thirty-one people have been arrested since the show, 10 directly linked with the event, according to judicial and security officials.

London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International said the number was more than 70 people, some of whom had been subjected to anal examinations.

On November 9, Amnesty condemned a draft bill in the Egyptian parliament that would criminalize homosexuality.

The bill lays jail terms of between one and three years for first time offenders, whether the act takes place in public or a private place. Repeat offenders would receive five years.

“This deeply discriminatory bill would be a huge setback for human rights and another nail in the coffin for sexual rights in Egypt,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty.

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