An Egyptian appeals court has reduced the jail terms for eight men sentenced last month on charges relating to their appearance in an online video purporting to show the country’s first gay marriage ceremony.
The court cut the sentences – on charges of spreading indecent images and inciting debauchery – from three years each to one year, judicial sources said.
Gay marriage is not legal in Egypt, a conservative Muslim country with a sizable Christian minority. Homosexuality is a taboo in both communities.
Last month’s convictions were based on an Internet video showing two men exchanging rings and embracing among cheering friends at a party on a Nile boat. The video went viral on social media sites in August and caused a stir online.
Egyptian law does not explicitly prohibit homosexuality, so the defendants were tried for debauchery – a charge normally reserved for prostitution.
The defendants have denied the charges.
About 26 men are to be tried on similar charges after they were arrested earlier this month in a raid on a Cairo bathhouse.
The eight men whose sentences were reduced on Saturday were first charged in September when a public prosecutor’s statement said that the images were “humiliating, regrettable and would anger God”, concluding that they constituted a criminal act.
The prosecutor ordered the coroner to carry out physical examinations as part of the investigation.
The new ruling can be appealed to the Court of Cassation, the country’s highest court.