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Five Egyptian men sentenced to prison for being gay

'Moral' witchhunt targets gays, HIV-positive men

Five Egyptian men were sentenced Apr 9 to three years in prison for being gay, reports the Associated Press.

Four of the men were targeted by police because of their HIV status, and all five were charged with “habitual practice of debauchery” — a term used in the Egyptian legal system to refer to gay sex.

Since Oct 2007, Cairo police have embarked on a witchhunt for people suspected of being HIV-positive. Police have arbitrarily arrested 12 men, and in January, four men were sentenced to a year in prison on “debauchery” charges.

An article from Bloomberg News suggests that the recent wave of arrests have been sparked by an effort of the Egyptian government to “out-moralize Islamic parties that have denounced the perceived depravity of Arab societies under autocratic rule” (via

The five men sentenced Apr 9 will receive three years in prison, followed by three years of close police supervision, reports AP.

The arrests and trials have drawn international outrage. On Apr 7, over 100 health and human rights organizations wrote to the Egyptian Ministry of Health, urging doctors to stop sharing patient’s HIV status with police. They also called for police to stop HIV-related arrests, for charges against all the men to be dropped, and for the repeal of laws against gay sex.