In April 2014, aboard a boat on the Nile river in Egypt, two men exchanged vows and rings. Their friends who were present on the boat were joyful in their exuberance as they witnessed this wedding ceremony.
A one-minute video, released after the wedding, showed the happy couple hugging, kissing, and a ring being slipped onto one of the groom’s fingers. The men were dressed in formal attire and there is a cake with a picture of the two men on it.
That one minute recording was posted online in September 2014. While some viewed this clip with excitement and as evidence of a new shift towards a more open and accepting community, Egyptian officials were displeased and moved quickly to arrest the identifiable persons shown.
According to the Egyptian prosecutor, who tried the couple and wedding guests, this was a “satanic ceremony” that was “shameful to God” and “offensive to public morals.” The prosecutor argued that these festivities “violate public decency” and accused those in attendance of “debauchery.”
The Egyptian court, agreeing with the prosecuting attorney, sentenced the eight men each to three years in jail for their participation in this ceremony.
While Egypt has no explicit prohibitions against same-sex relationships, gay men have been prosecuted before under laws that forbid “shameless public acts.”
Earlier in the year, four men were arrested, convicted, and sentenced to eight years in prison for “debauchery.” They had allegedly held parties that involved homosexual activities.
And as recently as October 2014, the Egyptian government has admitted to searching social media sites for documentation of homosexual activities. In another case in September 2014, the regime used information obtained on Facebook to convict gay men of “committing debauchery.”
Gay people are not the only minority group being targeted in this recent crackdown. Authorities in Egypt have also begun a campaign against atheists as well as liberal and pro-democracy advocates.
There has been a social media response to these convictions, with members of the LGBTQ community and activists using #stopjailinggays (#ضد_حبس_المثليين) on Twitter as an attempt to bring greater attention to this issue.
Sources: Edge: 8 Convicted for Alleged Same-Sex Wedding in Egypt,
CNN: Egyptian Men Seen in Alleged Same-Sex Wedding Video Get Three Years in Jail, Daily Beast: Egypt’s LGBTs Fight Grindr Crackdown, Ahram: Egypt Sentences Six Men Convicted of Homosexuality to 2 Years in Jail
Image courtesy of Solidarity with Egypt LGBT
Gwen is a writer who has an education degree, a social work background, an extensive knowledge of vegetables, and a devotion to queer revolutionary politics. She lives deep in the woods of Maine with two dogs, a magnificent partner, and an ever-growing collection of plants.