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Egypt court finds TV broadcast of gay bath house raid was in ‘public interest’

Egypt court finds TV broadcast of gay bath house raid was in ‘public interest’

An appeals court in Cairo has declared that a 2014 television broadcast of the arrest of 26 men at a gay bath house was in the public interest.

The court is hearing an appeal to a six month sentence that was handed down against Mona Iraqi, the journalist who tipped off the police about the bath house – leading to the raid which she then filmed.

Iraqi’s prison sentence has already been struck down.

21 of the men who were arrested during the raid have been acquitted. The remaining men are accused of running the venue.

The judge found that filming the raid was ‘journalistic work that serves public interest’ and that Iraqi had not had the intention of defaming anyone.

Instead the court found that Iraqi had been seeking to raise awareness about HIV and how it was spread in Egypt, noting that the broadcast had been timed to coincide with World AIDS Day.

Egyptian Press Syndicate lawyer Sayed Abu Zeid told Aswat Masriya that the judgement was good for freedom of the press in Egypt.

‘Every person retains the right to criticize foul affairs in society as well as critique individuals if that serves the public interest,’ Abu Zeid said.

‘The verdict undoubtedly angers some as the case involves issues of privacy; however the public interest should always take precedence over the private interest.’

However a journalist representing the arrested men criticized the judge for not addressing the legal issue at hand – that Iraqi’s broadcast had accused the men of an offense they had all been acquitted of.

Egyptian law does not directly outlaw homosexuality. However a 1961 law banning prostitution has language banning the incitement of ‘debauchery and immorality’ which has often been used against gay men.