An Old Cairo appeals court overturned an imprisonment sentence against controversial television host Mona Iraqi for charges of defamation and dissemination of false news.
Iraqi had been sentenced to six months in prison and was ordered to pay an EGP 1,000 fine in November of last year for her involvement in a televised raid on a Ramses bathhouse in December 2014.
Iraqi, who hosts the television show “El Mestakhaby” (The Hidden), had claimed responsibility for informing security forces of “debauchery” at the bathhouse. Following the incident, Iraqi was internationally condemned for violating human rights and the case attracted significant media attention.
After news of the Tuesday ruling broke, Mona Iraqi became Egypt’s top trending topic on Twitter, with many users wondering how both the host and the men from the bathhouse were found innocent in the case.
26 men were put on trial following the raid but all were acquitted in January of last year. Four of the defendants, including the owner of the bathhouse, were accused of “running a place that organizes paid sexual orgies”. The other 21 were accused of debauchery and underwent intrusive anal examinations by the forensic department to determine whether they were “habitual” homosexuals.
The practice of using anal examinations to determine homosexuality has been criticized by several organizations, including Human Rights Watch, which described the practice as “invasive, intrusive, abusive and profoundly humiliating.”
The scathing report, issued in 2004, said the tests are based on “obsolete, nineteenth-century medical mythology” and condemned their continued use “in violation of international standards and professional principles.”
No specific law criminalizes homosexuality in Egypt. However, in most cases, the prosecution uses Article 9 of Law 10/1961 outlawing “debauchery” to convict people accused of engaging in homosexual activities.
Those found guilty of “inciting debauchery and immorality” are subject to punishment by imprisonment for a period ranging from three to five years.