26 men in ‘gay’ Ramses bathhouse raid charged with ‘prostitution’

Azbakiya Prosecution on Wednesday referred the 26 men from the Ramses bathhouse raid to trial next Sunday before a misdemeanor court over charges of gay prostitution, Al-Masry Al-Youm reports.
Investigators say 22 suspects had formed a “homosexuality network,” charging LE200 per person for gay sex. Four of the bathhouse administrators were also arrested over charges of facilitating the practice. The suspects denied the accusations.
After their arrests, 21 of the men were subject to forced anal examinations by forensic physicians to determine their homosexual activity, according to Hesham Abdel Hameed, the Justice Ministry's forensics department spokesperson, who spoke to Ahram Online.
During the examination, the men are forced to bend over as a doctor massages their buttocks and probes their anus. The examinations showed, according to Hameed, that three men were sexually assaulted, though the test did not produce concrete results in the other 18 tested.
Medical experts say such anal examinations are useless in determining whether consensual gay sex has taken place, and Human Rights Watch has called for ending the practice, saying it violates international treaties against torture.
The 26 men were arrested in a sting operation, spearheaded by TV presenter Mona Iraqi as part of her program “Al-Mostakhbai,” an undercover show on the channel Alqahira wal Nas.
The TV journalist brought a secret cameraman into a bathhouse near the Ramses train station to film inside and later colluded with police to raid the premises. As the police arrived, Iraqi filmed the half-naked men crouched and huddled as police escorted them to jail.
“With pictures, we reveal the biggest den of group perversion in the heart of Cairo,” she wrote on her Facebook fan page. “The cameras of Al-Mostakhbai has a filmed investigation to prove incidents of group perversion and record the confessions of the owners of this den.”
In her defense, Iraqi responded to criticism saying her program acted with “professionalism,” aiming to raise AIDS awareness and highlight the “categories most vulnerable to HIV infection” and called the bathhouse, where men allegedly engage in group gay sex, as a “den for spreading AIDS in Egypt.”
Iraqi and prosecutors allege the men were engaging in gay prostitution, according to their video evidence.
Though Egypt does not have specific laws banning homosexuality, authorities have used laws against “debauchery” and “prostitution” as a means to arrest what is seen as deviant sexual behavior in this socially conservative country.
Since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsy, the country has stepped up its crackdown on homosexual activity.
In November, eight men were sentenced to three years for “inciting debauchery and offending public morality” over a YouTube video where they were allegedly shown on a Nile sailboat performing a gay marriage.
After the video went viral on social media, the men were arrested and subject to anal examinations by forensic authorities in an attempt to prove their sexuality. Though the forensic team said the examinations showed the men had not engaged in homosexual behavior, they were sentenced nonetheless.
“The entire case is made up and lacks basis. The police did not arrest them red-handed and the video does not prove anything,” Hameed told AFP.
Egypt last saw a large bathhouse raid in the poor neighborhood of al-Marg, north-east of Cairo in October 2013. Egyptian prosecution ordered the arrest of 14 suspects after being caught “in the act of homosexuality.”
Speaking to Egypt Independent, Adel Ramdan, a lawyer with Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said Egypt’s social taboo against homosexuality has driven gays to seek sex in underground bathhouses or saunas where they engage in risky public sex with strangers. “If Egyptians in general practiced sex normally, they would rarely go to brothels,” he said.

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