Journalist Mona Iraqi (top right) filmed the men as they were being arrested
Egyptian prosecutors have lost their appeal against the dismissal of homosexuality charges against 26 men arrested in an alleged Cairo gay bathhouse last year.
The men were first acquitted of charges of debauchery and committing “indecent public acts” on 12 January, a move that was seen as an unexpected victory for the country’s beleaguered LGBT community.
The state, however, refused to accept the verdict and appealed the decision, which has now been rejected by an appeals court.
“This means they are totally innocent and the case is totally closed,” Mohamed Abo Zakry, a lawyer with the Egyptian Center for Civil Reform, which represented seven of the defendants, told BuzzFeed News.
During the late night 7 December raid on the bathhouse, the humiliated near-naked men were filmed by television journalist Mona Iraqi as they were herded into police trucks. She also claimed to have tipped-off the morality police to the alleged “gay orgy den”.
Zakry said that the defendants were planning to sue Iraqi as well as the television station that broadcast her exposé on “perversion” in Cairo. They will also file a complaint with the police officer who led the raid.
There are reports that the media and the Egyptian government have been colluding in a widespread crackdown against the LGBT community. The Egyptian authorities are also believed to be using social media, including dating apps, to track down and arrest gay men.
While homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, gay people are targeted through immorality or public indecency laws.