Middle East

Egypt cuts 'gay wedding video' jail terms

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Media caption#BBCtrending [Broadcast Sept 2014]: Arrest order after 'gay marriage' video

A court in Egypt has reduced to one year the three-year jail sentences given to eight men for appearing in a video alleged to show a gay marriage.

All eight denied charges of inciting debauchery and offending public morality during the trial in November.

The video, which was posted to YouTube in September, shows two men exchanging rings on a boat on the Nile.

Though homosexuality is legal in Egypt, it remains a taboo. Police raids on gay venues have risen in recent months.

Relatives of the defendants screamed and wept on hearing the new sentences given by a Cairo appeal court, AFP news agency reports.

In April, a court in Egypt sentenced four men to up to eight years in prison for committing homosexual acts.

A mass round-up in 2001 saw dozens of men sentenced on similar charges.

Authoritarian creep?

The latest court case comes amid reports that Egypt is enacting authoritarian laws at a rate unmatched by any other country for 60 years.

The UK's Guardian newspaper reports that since the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, his successors Adly Mansour and Abdul Fattah al-Sisi have used the absence of an elected parliament to issue decrees "that severely restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly".

In one case, an Egyptian literary journalist and poet Fatima Naoot is to go on trial for describing the Islamic ritual of slaughtering of sheep as a sacrifice to God on Eid al-Adha as the greatest massacre committed by human beings.

Additionally, Egypt has seen a marked rise in attacks by militants in Sinai - an increasingly lawless and strategically important peninsula.

The army announced on Saturday that one terror suspect had been killed and 297 captured in North Sinai in a three-day security sweep.