Though homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, police have been using social media and smartphone applications to hunt down and arrest gays and lesbians. Two gay Egyptians, who hide their sexuality and live in fear of being arrested, tell us their story.
A week ago, seven men were arrested after they appeared in a video showing a marriage ceremony between two men. The footage showed a gay couple exchanging vows and rings under a traditional canopy on a boat on the Nile, in the presence of a small group of friends. The footage was shared across social media and was picked up by the local press, who condemned this ceremony.
At the beginning of the week, the public prosecutor’s office ordered the two men featured in the ceremony to undergo “medical tests” that were supposed to be able to determine if they were homosexual. However, after the men were “tested,” the authorities admitted that the results showed that they had not engaged in homosexual relations.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt. Despite this, numerous people have been arrested while taking part in festivities celebrating gay unions and accused of “debauchery.” In May, for example, four men were arrested during a party organised in Nasr City, located east of Cairo. One of them was sentenced to 12 years of prison, the heaviest sentence ever given to an LGBT person in Egypt.