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Egypt moves to outlaw homosexuality with lengthy jail terms amid 'morality' crackdown Open in fullscreen

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Egypt moves to outlaw homosexuality with lengthy jail terms amid 'morality' crackdown

Homosexuality is not outlawed in Egypt, but discrimination is commonplace [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 October, 2017

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An Egyptian lawmaker has submitted a draft law that would see homosexuals and their "supporters" sentenced to lengthy jail terms, amid a government crackdown on homosexuality.

An Egyptian lawmaker has submitted a draft law that would see homosexuals and their "supporters" sentenced to lengthy jail terms, amid a government crackdown on homosexuality.

Riyad Abdel Sattar gave the draft to parliament's speaker on Wednesday, calling for homosexuals to be jailed for up to five years and people who defend them for up to three years, local media reported.

"Any person engaging in homosexuality in a public or private place should be subjected to punitive action that should be no less than one year and not exceeding three years in jail," the draft reads.

"In case those jailed homosexual people repeated having sex after being freed, then the punitive action should be five years in jail."

It adds that people found guilty of "calling for the acceptance of homosexuality" - even if are not gay themselves - and journalists covering "gay events" could be jailed for up to three years.

The move comes after an open-air concert in Cairo on September 22 by Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila, when the flag representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community was raised.

Pictures of the incident were shared widely on social media, leading to a public backlash and discussions on prime time television with many calling for those involved to be punished.

Since then nearly 70 people have been arrested, and more than 20 have been handed sentences ranging from six months to six years.

Homosexuality is not yet outlawed in Egypt, but discrimination is commonplace.

Gay men are frequently arrested and typically charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy.

International rights groups have slammed the ongoing crackdown.

"Egypt should immediately halt this vicious crackdown on a vulnerable group simply for waving a flag," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director at Human Rights Watch.

"Repression will not turn gay people straight - it will only perpetuate fear and abuse," she added.

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