An Egyptian court sentenced four men to up to eight years in prison after convicting them Monday of committing homosexual acts, local and international news agencies are reporting.
According to the Associated Press, three of the men received an eight year sentence from the Nasr City misdemeanor court, while the other man received a three year prison sentence with hard labor.
The men were originally arrested for holding or attending parties that police said included homosexual acts. Women’s clothing and makeup were also found at the gathering, according to police.
The French news agency AFP reported that prosecutors characterized the parties as “deviant.”
In 2011, 52 Egyptian men were accused of being gay in a trial that drew international criticism. “Twenty-three of them were sentenced to up to five years in prison while the rest were acquitted,” the AP wrote. “Egyptian law does not explicitly refer to homosexuality, and prosecutors usually level charges that include terms such as ‘debauchery.’”
The American organization Human Rights First released a statement in response to the conviction writing: “We are alarmed and disappointed to hear of the verdict convicting these men based on their sexual orientation and identity.”
“Egypt is a bellwether state in the Arab region; what happens in Egypt sets a trend for developments throughout the Arab world. The United States has a long-standing, close and complex relationship with Egypt, and it must use its leverage to protest the expansion of the crackdown on political dissent and now LGBT people,” said Human Rights First.
“Those accused of homosexuality are often forced to undergo medical tests to establish they are ‘habitual’ homosexuals, a practice rights groups have decried as abusive,” wrote AFP.