08:20 | 20th April 2019

News: World

Thu 25 Sep, 2014
By Robert Ingham

I knew that he wanted a ring, so I brought it as a birthday present

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Egypt - Eight Men On Trial Over 'First Gay Marriage'

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Eight men accused of taking part in a marriage-like ceremony have been put on trial in Cairo, prompting fears of another crackdown on LGBT Egyptians.

Prosecutors alleged the men had participated in a gay wedding, which sparked a media backlash after footage from the ceremony emerged on YouTube this month. Members of Egypt’s gay community believe at least 35 other men were also seized from public places, as police mounted a dragnet operation to gather information about the identity of those in the video.

Described online as Egypt’s “first gay marriage”, the footage showed two men embracing, exchanging rings and celebrating with their friends on a small boat on the Nile – a scene that scandalised conservative Egypt.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group ousted by Egypt’s current regime last summer, have used the footage to claim their overthrow has led to the destruction of Egyptian values. “The coup leaders have adopted the west’s agenda,” tweeted former Brotherhood MP, Azza al-Garf, who said Egypt had been turned into a “place of sin”.

The regime’s supporters also announced their revulsion at the video. “I don’t have a problem with anyone doing something wrong, and keeping it private,” Tamer Amin, a prominent television talkshow host, told his viewers. “But if that person is proud of it, and doesn’t try to hide it … that’s a disaster.”

In a subsequent interview with Amin, a man purporting to be one of those in the video sought to downplay the significance of the footage. Calling himself “Ali”, he said the ceremony was in fact a birthday party, not a wedding. “I’m not the groom, I’m just a normal guy, having a birthday party with one of our friends – nothing more, nothing less,” said the interviewee, who said he had a girlfriend. “I knew that he wanted a ring, so I brought it as a birthday present.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, but it is a social taboo, and allegedly gay men have often been arrested on charges of immorality. In the most notorious example, 52 men were arrested in 2001 for their perceived sexuality, in what became known as the Queen Boat case.

Source: The Guardian

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