- Algerian police claimed the decorations and flowers and the fact the men looked gay made them guilty.
An Algerian court has jailed two men and given 42 others suspended sentences for allegedly attending a ‘gay wedding’.
Police raided a private residence on 24 July this year in el-Khroub, a district in Constantine Province, northeastern Algeria. Neighbors had allegedly complained to police.
Officers arrested the group of nine women and 35 men. Most of those the police rounded up are university students.
An Algerian lawyer involved in the case said the court relied on police descriptions of the scene to sentence the 44. Officers claimed decorations, flowers and sweet treats made it a wedding reception. They also used the men’s supposedly gay appearance as evidence of guilt.
The court convicted the 44 of ‘same-sex relations,’ ‘public indecency,’ and ‘subjecting others to harm by breaking Covid-19-related quarantine measures’. It sentenced two men to three years in prison and a fine, while the others received a one-year suspended sentence.
Algeria still punishes gay sex with up to two years prison under Article 338 of its Penal Code. Meanwhile Article 333 increases the penalty for public indecency to up to three years jail and a fine if it involves ‘acts against nature with a member of the same sex’.
‘Flagrant infringement of their rights’
Human Rights Watch says the authorities should void the charges and release the two men immediately.
Rasha Younes, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said:
‘Algerian authorities’ attack on personal freedoms is nothing new. But arresting dozens of students based on their perceived sexual orientation is a flagrant infringement on their basic rights.
‘They should immediately release from prison the two men who would be free today were it not for Algeria’s regressive anti-homosexuality laws.
‘Instead of policing its citizens’ private lives, the Algerian government should carry out reforms, including decriminalizing same-sex conduct.’
Moreover, Human Rights Watch says the arrests breached the country’s constitution. It protects people’s private life, including the privacy of their homes.
The court sentenced the 44 on 3 September but details of the case have just come to light.
Earlier this year the UN Human Rights Commissioner told countries not to use the COVID-19 crisis to attack LGBT+ people.