Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
Penal Code 1937, Art. 269 bis Indecency

Article 269 bis prohibits incitement to indecency with a penalty of up to one month imprisonment, or up to six months and a fine for repeat offenders.1

Penal Code 1937, Art. 278 Scandalous Act

Article 278 criminalises scandalous acts with a penalty of up to one year imprisonment or a fine.2

Law 10/1961 on the Combating of Prostitution, Art. 9 Debauchery or Prostitution

Article 9 criminalises enabling acts of debauchery or prostitution, as well as the acts themselves, with a penalty of up to three years imprisonment and a fine.3



ILGA reports that while consensual same-sex intimacy is not explicitly criminalised “the law on prostitution and the law against debauchery, among others, have been used liberally to imprison gay men in recent years.”


The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Egypt stated that there was an increase in reports of arrests and harassment of LGBT individuals, particularly after a rainbow flag was raised on September 22 at a concert by the rock band “Mashrou Leila” (see further in Persecution and Discrimination). Reports after this incident suggested that more than 85 individuals were arrested in a massive crackdown.


The Human Rights Watch World Report 2017 states that a local advocacy group, Solidarity with Egypt LGBTQ+, had recorded 114 criminal investigations involving 274 LGBT individuals launched between the end of 2013 and November 2016, 66 of which involved the authorities’ use of social media.


In September, an Afghani news source, Khaama Press, reported the arrest of seven Egyptian men after they appeared in a video showing the marriage of two gay men. “Medical tests” were ordered for those individuals arrested. The report also alleges that four men were sentenced to eight years imprisonment for debauchery in April, after being found guilty of attending parties, where “homosexual activity” was alleged to have occurred.

One blog post, citing Egyptian activists (Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights) as a source, claimed in May that 77 LGBT individuals had been arrested since October 2013.


In October, 14 suspects were allegedly detained for investigation into allegations that they had committed “homosexual acts” at an Egyptian medical centre.

The US Department of State Human Rights Report found that the law was occasionally invoked to arrest LGBT individuals. The report states that on 13 October, 11 suspects were arrested for committing “homosexual acts”. Those men were released the following day on the instruction of the public prosecutor, whilst the building where the alleged homosexual activity was said to have occurred was destroyed by neighbours.

Statements by Public Figures


Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a press briefing note on the situation of LGBT people in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia that “We are deeply concerned by a wave of arrests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia of more than 180 people perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) – many of whom have reportedly been mistreated by law enforcement officials.”

After a rainbow flag was raised on September 22 at a concert by the rock band “Mashrou Leila”, many TV presenters spread speeches equating LGBT individuals and their identity with terrorism, debauchery and prostitution. Ahmad Mousa, a TV presenter on the Sada Elbalad channel, said “homosexuality is a crime that’s as terrible as terrorism. It’s another face of terrorism”.

Mohamed El Gheity, a TV presentor on the LTC channel, said “homosexuals have a lot of crimes related to their behaviour. It’s not just their moral perversion, they are also involved with other crimes such as drugs, murder, and kidnap as well as many other crimes.”


In September, the Prosecutor General’s office ordered the immediate arrest of a number of men accused of violating public decency after appearing in a video which seemed to show a marriage ceremony of two gay men, in order “to protect social values and mete out justice.” According to one report, a statement issued by the Prosecutor General, Hisham Barakat said the acts of the individuals involved were “humiliating, regrettable and would anger God”.

[The actions of homosexuals] are humiliating, regrettable and would anger God.”

Hisham Barakat, Prosecutor General


In June, Egypt’s Health Minister, Mohamed Mostafa Hamed, boasted that the country had “succeeded” in removing LGBT health from the agenda of a World Health Organisation board meeting, stating: “Egypt believes that it is not right to involve the organization in any issues that are contentious and incompatible with recognized religions, values, and principles”.

Persecution and Discrimination


In October, Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered two activists, Sarah Hegazy and Ahmed Alaa, to be detained for 15 days pending investigation for allegedly joining a banned group aimed at interfering with the constitution. After three months in pre-trial detention, they were released on bail and left the country.

In September, a Lebanese band, Mashrou Leila, played a concert to an audience of 30,000 in Cairo, led by openly-gay singer Hamed Sinno. Fans waved rainbow flags in support of LGBT rights, leading to a media outcry against homosexuality and perceived immorality and to a mass arresting for LGBT individuals.


In December, 26 men were arrested in a bathhouse in downtown Cairo’s Ramses area at the behest of television host Mona al-Iraqi, who filmed the ensuing security raid. In January 2015, the Azbakeya Misdemeanors Court acquitted them.

Reports suggest that Egyptian police have begun to use social media websites to identify and target gay men. Egypt’s Interior Ministry denied allegations that a contract has been awarded to monitor internet activity. Several Egyptian news sources had previously published a “copy of tenders” issued by the Interior Ministry, which set out which online communications would be monitored, including: “Blasphemy and skepticism in religions; regional, religious, racial, and class divisions; spreading of rumors and intentional twisting of facts; throwing accusations; libel; sarcasm; using inappropriate words; calling for the departure of societal pillars; encouraging extremism, violence and dissent; inviting demonstrations, sit-ins and illegal strikes; pornography, looseness, and lack of morality; educating methods of making explosives and assault, chaos and riot tactics; calling for normalizing relations with enemies and circumventing the state’s strategy in this regard; fishing for honest mistakes, hunting flesh; taking statements out of context; and spreading hoaxes and claims of miracles.”


The US Department of State Human Rights Report suggested that societal discrimination is high. Whilst violent encounters tend to be limited, this is largely due to individual self-censorship and the inability of LGBT Egyptians to state or publicly discuss their sexual orientation due to intimidation and fear.

Legislative News


Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation issued an order to ban all forms of promotion or sympathy towards the LGBT community on media outlets in addition to their appearance on media outlets.

An Egyptian lawmaker introduced a draft Bill that would imprison those engaging in or promoting same-sex relations. The Bill introduces sentences of to up to 10 years in prison for people engaging in or promoting same-sex relations.


The Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favour of the Ministry of Interior in a case filed by a Libyan citizen to overturn the decision barring him from entering the country. This ruling gave the Ministry the power to deport individuals based on their sexual orientation and practices without being required to prove their guilt in court first. The verdict, issued by the Supreme Administrative Court, went against the recommendation issued by the Court’s Commissioners’ Authority.

During its second UPR cycle, Egypt did not receive any recommendations regarding the LGBT rights violations that the government committed.


During its first UPR cycle, Egypt rejected recommendations to ensure non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and to review its laws on “debauchery” which, it was stated, were open to abuse and could lead to the persecution of sexual minorities.

1. Penal Code 1937, Art. 269 bis Indecency

“Whoever is found on a public road or a traveled and frequented place inciting the passersby with signals or words to commit adultery shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding one month. If the felon recurs to committing this crime within one year of the first crime, the penalty shall become imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding fifty pounds. A ruling of conviction shall necessitate placing the convict under police supervision for a period equal to that of the penalty.” Full text.

2. Penal Code 1937, Art. 278 Scandalous Act

“Whoever commits in public a scandalous act against shame shall be punished with detention for a period not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding three hundred pounds.” Full text.

3. Law 10/1961 on the Combating of Prostitution, Article 9 Debauchery or Prostitution, Art. 9

“Punishment by imprisonment for a period not less than three months and not exceeding three years and a fine not less than 25 LE and not exceeding 300 LE in the Egyptian administration and not less than 250 Lira and not exceeding 3000 Lira in the Syrian administration or one of these two punishments applies in the following cases:

(a) Whoever lets or offers in whatever fashion a residence or place run for the purpose of debauchery or prostitution, or for the purpose of housing one or more persons, if they are to his knowledge practicing debauchery or prostitution.

(b) Whoever owns or manages a furnished residence or furnished rooms or premises open to the public and who facilitates the practice of debauchery or prostitution, either by admitting persons so engaged or by allowing on his premises incitement to debauchery or prostitution.

(c) Whoever habitually engages in debauchery or prostitution.

Upon the apprehension of a person in the last category, it is permitted to send him for a medical examination. If it is discovered that he is carrying an infectious venereal disease, it is permitted to detain him in a therapeutic institute until his cure is completed.

It is permitted to determine that the convicted person be placed, upon completion of his sentence, in a special reformatory until the administrative agency orders his release. This judgment is obligatory in cases of recidivism, and the period spent in the reformatory is not allowed to be more than three years.” Full text.

Keep in Touch

Sign up to our newsletter for updates on key legal challenges to anti-LGBT laws around the world, news on the reform of discriminatory laws in the Commonwealth, comment from our Director on landmark judgments and employment opportunities at the Trust.