After a video of what appears to be a gay marriage ceremony between two men taking place on a Nile boat went viral, police announced on Saturday they had arrested several of the men featured in the video, including the couple, local papers reported.
The video, which circulated widely last week, shows two men in suits exchanging rings, while other men surrounding them sing wedding songs and ululate in celebration. There is also a cake with a picture of the two men and several of the guests exchanging hugs.
The video provoked heated responses, and one of the two men seen exchanging rings made a phone call to television show host Tamer Amin, explaining that the party in the video was a birthday celebration and was misunderstood.
The man, whose identity was protected, explained that he had bought a silver ring for his close friend on his birthday and that their friends jokingly celebrated with wedding songs when he gave it to him. The 28-year-old, who told the TV host that he had a girlfriend, said that his life was turned upside down since the video was leaked.
“I had to speak up, I can’t sit by idly and watch my reputation be tarnished. I’m scared of walking in the streets now, I feel like screaming out and telling people I’m not like this,” he said.
He also added that he had shared the video, which he says was taken last October, on his Facebook page and then removed it and was surprised to see it re-emerge almost a year later.
Egypt has a history of cracking down on homosexuals on vague charges, such as “violating the teachings of religion” and “moral depravity.”
In the most famous incident, 52 men were arrested on a boat in May 2001 and 23 of them were sentenced to prison.
Last April, three men were sentenced to eight years on charges related to homosexuality and a fourth was sentenced to three years. The men were arrested in a flat while dressing as women, according to the prosecution.