A television host in Egypt was sentenced to one year of “hard labor” behind bars after interviewing a gay man on a privately owned TV network.
Mohammed el-Gheiti was fined 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($167) for “promoting debauchery and homosexuality” on his LTC TV show “Wake Up” in an August 2018 episode, according to Egypt’s state-run news agency Al-Ahram.
Gheiti was also accused of “contempt of religion,” Al-Ahram reports.
In addition to the jail sentence and fine, Gheiti is to remain under surveillance for 12 months after serving his prison term.
Gheiti has the legal right to appeal the ruling and will remain free pending the final verdict, according to The Telegraph. The sentence can be suspended pending an appeal if Gheiti pays 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($56) in bail, prosecuting lawyer Samir Sabry said, according to the BBC.
It is not known if Gheiti will appeal the sentence.
Sabry’s legal team argued that the show discussed the financial gains and other benefits of engaging in homosexuality, Al-Ahram reports.
Gheiti had spoken out against homosexuality on multiple occasions prior to the lawsuit, according to CNN.
The August 2018 interview featured a journalist named Mustafa Mekki, who said he posed as a gay man on the gay dating app Grindr with the goal of learning more about the Egyptian gay community, according to CNN.
During the interview, Mekki told Gheiti : “Many of the men I met through the application are unhappy with what they’ve involved themselves in and want to change their situation.”
The anonymous guest on “Wake Up” was one of the men Mekki met on the app, who talked on the show about his life as a sex worker.
The guest’s face was blurred out during the interview to conceal his identity.
The man said he was motivated to share his experience as a way to warn other young Egyptians to not repeat his mistakes, ABC News reports.
Immediately after the show’s airing, Egypt’s top media body, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, took the channel off the air for two weeks, claiming LTC TV had committed “professional violations,” according to Al-Ahram.
Sabry has filed over 2,700 criminal complaints against celebrities and media personalities to influence Egyptian politics and enforce public morality, according to a June 2018 profile on him in The New York Times.
“Egyptian art is in its worst state ever at the moment,” Sabry told the Times, “They are relying on nudity, swear words, drugs and thuggery, and are showing our Egyptian women as whores. We have to stop them,” adding, “People fear me.”
In 2017, Egypt’s media council banned homosexuals from appearing on any media outlet, according to the BBC.
Homosexuality is not technically illegal in the country, however LGBT individuals are regularly subjected to arrest on charges of debauchery, immorality, prostitution and pornography.
— NY Post