(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
CAIRO - Egyptian authorities have ordered the arrest of nine men who appeared in a video purporting to show the country's first gay marriage, accusing them of inciting debauchery and undermining public morals.
Gay marriage is not legal in Egypt, a conservative Muslim society where the footage, which went viral on social media sites last month, has caused a stir online.
Though homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, discrimination is rife. Arrests of gay men occasionally make headlines and the accused are typically charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy, drawing criticism from rights groups.
The footage, which was posted on YouTube, appears to show a group of men celebrating a gay wedding on a Nile riverboat.
The public prosecutor's office said in a statement late on Saturday the party took place in April but the footage went viral in August, causing the police to take action to identify the men.
The statement said the images were "humiliating, regrettable and would anger God," concluding that they constituted a criminal act and would be investigated.
The prosecutor told police to arrest the men and ordered the coroner to carry out physical examinations of all of the accused with a view to pressing charges against them for inciting debauchery and spreading images that violate public decency.
State news agency Mena reported seven men had already been detained and two more were still being sought. The prosecutor said the men would be held or four days pending a full inquiry.
The largest crackdown on homosexuals in Egypt took place in 2001, when police raided a floating disco called the Queen Boat. Fifty-two men were tried in the case that drew widespread criticism from human rights groups and Western governments.