Last month, eight men were convicted and sentenced to three years after appearing in a video online that allegedly showed a wedding between two men, one of the most high-profile LGBT-related prosecutions in Egypt in over than a decade. Yesterday, an Egyptian appeals court reduced their sentences to one year.
This summer the video, which shows two men changing rings, sharing a brief kiss, and embracing in what appears to be a gay wedding on a Nile boat went viral, with Arabic press describing it as Egypt's "first same-sex wedding." However, the validity of the video has been challenged, as one of the participants has stated that the video was just a joke. Nonetheless the damage had already been done. In September a public prosecutor stated that the video was "humiliating, regrettable and would anger God," which qualified the video as a criminal act.
Gay marriage is not legal in Egypt, and homosexuality is very taboo. But because there is no law expressly prohibiting homosexuality, the men were charged for "inciting debauchery" and violating public decency last month.
As J. Lester Feder at BuzzFeed points out, since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took took over last year, LGBT people have faced increased persecution, as part of a strategy to "guard against a potential political challenge from the Muslim Brotherhood."
Meanwhile, 26 men in Egypt await sentencing on similar charges after being detained in a "gay sex party" raid on a bathhouse in Cairo.