Egyptian authorities ordered the arrest of nine men over a viral video that seemingly depicted a ‘gay marriage’ ceremony on a Nile boat. The public prosecution accused the men of debauchery and violation of public decency.
The controversial Youtube video, entitled “Egypt’s first gay marriage”, was circulated late August and showed a celebration with the exchange of rings between two men who were kissing in front of a wedding cake.
In a statement late on Saturday, the public prosecutor’s office said the mass circulation caused the police to take action to identify the men even though the party took place in April. The statement added the video was “humiliating, regrettable and would anger God”, and that it constituted a criminal act which would be investigated “to safeguard the values of society and implement justice”. The prosecutor further ordered the coroner to physically examine the accused towards pressing charges against them.
The state news agency MENA reported seven men had already been detained and two more were still at large. The prosecutor said the men would be held for four days pending further investigation.
However, speaking anonymously in a television interview with host Tamer Amin, one of the two men involved in the alleged marriage denied the accusation and explained that the video was “jokingly made” as a “novel idea” to celebrate the other man’s birthday. The 28-year-old man added that he was surprised at how quickly and widely the video was circulated and that viewers misunderstood the situation as an actual “gay marriage”. He insisted he never thought of being with a man and has a girlfriend, assuring there were women on the boat who did not appear in the video. He said the video has had a negative impact on his daily life.
Homosexuality is not outlawed outright in Egypt’s constitution and laws. However, arrests of individuals accused of taking part in homosexual acts were made in the past for “violating the teachings of religion” and “moral depravity”. The largest crackdown on homosexuals took place in 2001, when 52 men were arrested while attending a gay party on the Queen Boat. Twenty-three of the men were sentenced to prison.
Furthermore, three men were arrested last April on charges related to homosexuality, and a fourth was sentenced to three years imprisonment. The prosecution stated that the men were arrested in an apartment while dressed as women.