The video, which became an online hit after it was posted on YouTube in September, shows two men kissing, exchanging rings and embracing among cheering friends. It was filmed at a birthday party held on a boat on the Nile.
The sentences, which can be appealed, were met with uproar from the families of the defendants, who demonstrated outside the court in central Cairo and were dispersed by police. The defendants, who had denied the charges, stood silent in the courtroom cage as the verdict was read, one of them holding up a copy of the Qur’an.
The eight were arrested in September when Egypt’s chief prosecutor decided that the video was “shameful to God” and “offensive to public morals”.
At the last hearing, on 11 October, a spokesman for the justice ministry’s forensics department insisted the men were innocent.
“The entire case is made up and lacks basis. The police did not arrest them red-handed and the video does not prove anything,” Hesham Abdel Hamed said.
“The medical test showed that the eight defendants have not practised homosexuality recently or in the past.”
He was referring to anal examinations, a long-standing practice in Egypt that Human Rights Watch has condemned. The New-York-based lobby group had called for the men be released…