Outrageous prison terms for so-called “debauchery cases” Orchestrated vice police campaign against gay and transgender people continues

Press Release

30 April 2016

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights condemns the shocking sentence handed down by the Agouza Misdemeanor Court on Sunday, April 24, 2016, against 11 individuals arrested in September 2015. The court sentenced them to prison terms of 3 to 12 years on charges related to “debauchery.” This incident is a continuation of the orchestrated vice police campaign against gay and transgender people. Since late 2013, nearly 200 people have been arrested on “charges of debauchery” and incitement to or manifestation of “debauchery”.

This is not the first heavy sentence in such cases. In 2014, the Nasr City Misdemeanor Court issued sentences of 8 to 12 in prison in several cases for the same charge of “habitual debauchery”.

The charges, in this latest case, included running a domicile for the practice of debauchery, inciting to and facilitating debauchery, habitual debauchery, the abuse of a communications medium (the internet), and failure to carry identification. Despite the fact that the Egyptian Penal Code provides for one penalty for one act, even if it constitutes multiple crimes, the court sentenced some of the defendants to multiple penalties for a single action, which explains the lengthy prison sentences.

Over the last few years and specifically since late 2013, the police has closely monitored websites and software applications used by gay and transgender people to meet and date one another. Over time, police officers have developed the ability to set up fake accounts to entrap individuals and identify their home addresses and arrest them.

The EIPR condemns the practice of subjecting defendants in such cases to compulsory medical exams, conducted to determine whether they have been anally penetrated. The practice continues despite the fact that in most debauchery cases, the findings of these exams are not used in court, since the examining forensic physicians uniformly note at the end of the report that anal sexual practices can be concealed with the use of lubricant. This is an implicit recognition that these compulsory anal exams are simply a way to humiliate and degrade defendants.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights calls upon the police to stop pursuing and punishing individuals for their sexual proclivities, orientation and private practices. It affirms the importance and inviolability of the private life of individuals and their right to privacy, guaranteed under the Egyptian constitution and laws and international conventions binding on the state. The EIPR further notes that homosexuality is not criminalized under Egyptian law, but the beliefs of law-enforcement officials and the ambiguity of penal provisions make it easy to punish individuals simply for engaging in social and gender non-conforming practices and lifestyles even if they are are not illegal.