A television host in Egypt has been fined $167 and sentenced to a year of hard labor for the crime of interviewing a gay man.
According to the BBC, Mohamed al-Ghiety interviewed a gay man in 2018 about his life as a sex worker. In the interview, the man (who was not identified) says he has regrets about being gay and working as a prostitute.
A lawyer, Samir Sabry, sued the TV host for appearing to promote possible monetary gains from “practicing” homosexuality. Sabry has a history of targeting celebrities via lawsuits says the BBC.
Ghiety, who ironically has a history of homophobic comments, will also be under police surveillance for a year after his prison sentence.
Homosexuality is not specifically illegal in Egypt, but police often arrest folks suspected of being LGBTQ by using a 1961 law banning prostitution which criminalizes ‘habitual debauchery.’
At the time of the interview, the top governing organization for media – the Supreme Council for Media Regulation – banned the channel from airing for two weeks due to ‘professional violations.’
The media council has prohibited LGBTQs from being shown on television in the conservative country since an incident at a Cairo rock concert in 2017, where a rainbow Pride flag was waved in a rare exhibition of gay pride.
At the time, the BBC wrote, “The raising of rainbow flags at the concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila – whose lead singer is openly gay – on 22 September was a rare public show of support for the LGBT community in the conservative Muslim country.”
As a result of the images going viral, 32 men and a woman were detained by authorities. The BBC reported that five of those men had anal examination carried out on them.
For a bail bond of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($58US), Ghiety could appeal his verdict and remain free while he awaits the outcome of the appeal.