An Egyptian broadcast journalist has been sentenced to a year in prison with hard labor for interviewing a gay man.
A court in the city of Giza also imposed a fine of 3,000 Egyptian pounds, the equivalent of $167, on Mohamed al-Gheiti, and ordered him to be put under surveillance for a year after he serves his sentence, Agence France-Presse reports. The punishments were handed down Sunday.
Al-Gheiti had interviewed the man, who talked about his partner and about being a sex worker, on the privately owned LTC channel last August. The man’s face was blurred to preserve his anonymity.
Although al-Gheiti has said he opposes homosexuality, he was accused of “promoting homosexuality and contempt of religion,” according to AFP. Samir Sabri, the lawyer who filed the complaint against the journalist, said the interview demonstrated there were financial rewards for being gay, the BBC reports.
After the interview ran, Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation took the channel off the air for two weeks, citing “professional violations,” AFP notes. LTC had defied a ban on “the appearance of homosexuals or promotion of their slogans,” said a statement released by the council at the time. The council imposed that ban after a rainbow flag was raised at a concert in Cairo in 2017. Several men were arrested at the concert and reportedly subjected to forced anal exams.
Al-Gheiti can appeal the sentence, which can be suspended if he pays 1,000 Egyptian pounds in bail pending the outcome of the appeal, Sabri told AFP.
Egypt has been cracking down on LGBTQ people for several years, with mass arrests of those believed to be gay. The country does not specifically outlaw homosexuality, but LGBTQ people are often prosecuted under a vague law banning “habitual debauchery.”