Egypt Jails Gay Wedding Attendees Under Law Intended For Prostitutes

By Allen McDuffee | November 1, 2014

Screengrab of two men exchanging rings in what is likely Egypt's first gay wedding. (YouTube) Screengrab of two men exchanging rings in what is likely Egypt’s first gay wedding. (YouTube)

A video that went viral in August captured what is likely Egypt’s first gay wedding on a boat in the Nile River. That virality drew the attention of Egyptian authorities who then tracked down several of the wedding’s attendees in September and jailed and charged them for “inciting debauchery.” Egypt’s chief prosecutor said the wedding was “shameful to God” and “offensive to public morals.”

Today, eight men were convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. What the decision captured is another data point in Egypt’s total intolerance of gays in the country—but also how Egypt is unwilling to acknowledge their existence. I wrote about it today at The Atlantic:

“But Egypt, a country that has a hard time acknowledging the existence of gay citizens within its borders, has no laws against homosexuality. Instead, the law that was used to prosecute the men is one with roots in British colonialism—one meant to rid the newly independent Egypt of the licensed brothels that had existed under British rule. Known as Law 10/1961 on the Combating of Prostitution, it banned prostitution of all forms, in a brothel or elsewhere.”

In other cases targeting gays, police have accused men of wearing women’s clothing—a euphemism meant to signify that a man was accused of being gay or of engaging in acts of gay sex. It reminded me of an article a former professor at The American University in Cairo wrote about how homosexuality has typically been portrayed in Egyptian film through coded forms of men dressing in women’s clothing because it was too taboo of a subject to address directly. Only recently has Egyptian fiction and film had overtly gay characters in their plots