'Gay party' raided in Egypt

Seven men have been arrested in Cairo on charges of belonging to a “debauchery” network.

The men, aged between 20 and 31, are said to have been in possession of “underwear, cosmetics, wigs and a number of bottles of liquor”, and a judge has ordered them to be sent to Heliopolis Hospital to be checked for sexually transmitted infections, Elwatannews website reports (in Arabic). 

According to Maj Gen Said Shafiq, director of the General Directorate of Investigations, the accused held “queer parties” charging 160 Egyptian pounds ($26) per night.

The men say the accusations are fabricated and they were merely sitting in an apartment at the time of their arrest, Elwatannews adds. 

A security man at the apartment building is quoted as saying the apartment was rented four months ago by one of the defendants with his wife (who has since disappeared). After a short time many residents began complaining about his “unacceptable behaviour”, his demeanour and his “way of speaking”.

A security member said the tenant was frequently visited by people with luxury cars who were wearing rings and gold chains.

Same-sex acts are not in themselves illegal in Egypt but charges are often brought under an old law against "debauchery" which was originally intended to combat prostitution.

A report by Human Rights Watch in 2004 documented several cases of raids on allegedly gay parties that appeared to be "sting" operations – where the guests had been invited by a police informer.

Judging by the account from Elwatannews, the latest case is different: neighbours seem to have taken a disliking to the man who rented the flat, at least partly because he appeared to be gay.

News of the "gay party" arrests comes just a few days after vigilantes surrounded four young men in a car on a busy street in the Mohandiseen district of Cairo. 

The January 25 Portal website (in Arabic) says the four "queers" were "practising depravity" in the car. It says they tried to drive off but another car blocked their way and they were taken to the police. (Gay Star News has an account in English.)

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 1 November 2012.