Upheld convictions, reduced terms for men in Egypt gay marriage video case

An Egyptian appeals court on Saturday upheld the convictions but reduced the sentences of eight men who appeared in a same-sex wedding video.

Last month, the men were convicted of “inciting debauchery” and sentenced to three-year prison terms after a video surfaced online of them at what appeared to be a gay wedding, the Associated Press reported. The sentences were cut to one year.

“Over the years, Egyptian authorities have repeatedly arrested, tortured, and detained men suspected of consensual homosexual conduct,” Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement following the arrests of seven of the men in September.

“These arrests represent another assault on fundamental human rights and reflect the Egyptian government’s growing disdain for the rule of law,” Reid said.

All of the men have consistently denied the charges.

Same-sex marriage is illegal in Egypt and while homosexuality is not an offense, in a country dominated by conservative Muslim values, gays have been charged with violating laws of morality, Reuters reported.

The most recent and high profile of these cases occurred in 2001. Known as the Queen Boat Trials, more than 50 men were arrested and charged with “habitual practice of debauchery,” after being detained on a cruise ship discotheque. Others were also charged with “contempt of heavenly religions.”

Nearly half of the men in the Queen Boat Trials were convicted, and served sentences ranging from two to five years.

Gay rights activists say that at least 150 men in Egypt have been arrested in connection to alleged homosexual behavior in the last 18 months.