An Egyptian court will give its verdict November 1 in the trial of eight men arrested after a “gay marriage” video went viral on the Internet, judicial sources said Saturday.
Homosexuality is not specifically banned under Egyptian law, so the men were charged with “inciting debauchery and offending public morality”, which could see them jailed for three years.
At the centre of the case is a video that prosecutors claim is a gay wedding ceremony aboard a Nile riverboat, showing two men in the centre kissing, exchanging rings and cutting a cake with their picture on it.
The video went viral on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
One of the defendants, prior to their arrest in early September, told a television talk show that the video was recorded during a birthday party.
Relatives of the men, protesting their innocence or fearful of publicity, waited anxiously Saturday as the defendants met judges in chambers because of the sensitivity of the case, an AFP correspondent reported.
A lawyer and a judicial official told reporters that the judges had decided to deliver the verdict on November 1.
A brother of one defendant said: “We do not want the media to know anything about this case.”
The mother of another said that “my son is innocent and the medical test has cleared him”.
A spokesman for the justice ministry’s forensics department also insisted Saturday that the men were innocent.
“The medical test showed that the eight defendants have not practised homosexuality recently or in the past,” Hesham Abdel Hamed told AFP.
“The entire case is made up and lacks basis. The police did not arrest them red-handed and the video does not prove anything.”
He was referring to anal examinations, a long-standing practice in Egypt that New York-based Human Rights Watch has condemned.
HRW has demanded that the men be released.
In the past, Egyptian homosexuals have been jailed on charges ranging from “scorning religion” to “sexual practices contrary to Islam”, the country’s dominant religion.