Egypt’s anti-LGBT crackdown continues as 17 people face lengthy jail time after being found guilty on homosexuality charges.
According to Reuters, the individuals were released by a court in Cairo on Sunday pending an appeal.
They were earlier found guilty of practicing homosexuality and inciting debauchery. The news agency said they were sentenced to three years in jail unless they pay a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds (R3800 / US$282).
There is some confusion about the details of the case, however. AFP reported that the number of individuals involved was 14. It’s also unclear if the 5,000 Egyptian pounds was a fine or their bail.
The latest onslaught began when dozens were arrested for waving rainbow flags during a music concert featuring Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in Cairo on September 22.
This led to a homophobic campaign by the local media, which published several pieces across news and social media platforms inciting hate speech against members of the LGBT community.
Up to 70 people are reported to have been arrested in the ensuing crackdown. Many were not directly involved with the flag incident and were simply arrested due to their perceived or real sexuality or gender identity.
While homosexuality is not currently specifically outlawed in Egypt, LGBT people are targeted and jailed through immorality or public indecency laws.
This could soon change for the worse. On October 25, MP Reyad Abdulsattar Hassan from the Free Egyptians Party proposed a new law that would further oppress LGBT people.
The law seeks to criminalise homosexual relationships, incitement of homosexual relationships, advertising of homosexual parties or gatherings as well as the displaying of symbols or signs associated with homosexuality.
Those found guilty for the first time of engaging in homosexuality would receive one to three years in jail, while repeat offenders could be jailed for five years.
Human rights activists in the region have condemned the proposed law as unconstitutional and violating international conventions ratified by Egypt.
“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 International.
Below is a video by the Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organisations about the proposed anti-LGBT law.