Two transgender men were referred to the prosecution on Sunday on charges of prostitution and posting sexually explicit videos online.
The prosecution in the Nasr City area of Cairo extended their detention for four more days, pending investigations.
State media said that the names of the defendants are “Salma and Dody”, although the exact names are still unknown.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the two defendants “have female physical and male genital organs”. The prosecution said that they publicised themselves wearing feminine clothes and offering sex in return for money.
According to official reports, the two defendants were arrested in a private flat in Nasr City, where the police confiscated female clothes, mobile phones, and sex toys. The possession of sex toys, feminine clothes, and wigs are not illegal according to Egyptian law.
The police said that after gathering enough intelligence and information, a police force raided the defendants’ flat. Local media circulated watermarked amateur pictures, which have yet to be verified, allegedly of the defendants, wearing female lingerie and short dresses. No nudity or sex acts were featured in the pictures.
A harsh security crackdown targeting Egypt’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has been intensifying since 2013.
A similar incident took place in December 2014, when a transgender woman known as Malooka Al-Daloua was arrested upon similar charges, including posting pornographic pictures and videos online. Security forces accused her of forming a “sadistic circle” to attract alleged sex clients.
Also, in a high-profile raid on 7 December, a force from the Egyptian anti-vice police raided a bath house and referred the defendants to court. Four of the defendants, including the bathhouse’s owner, were charged with “running a place that organises paid sexual orgies”, while the remaining 21 faced charges of debauchery.
The arrests were filmed and broadcasted by controversial TV presenter Mona Iraqi, who was said to have collaborated with the police officer leading the raid.
All the defendants were, however, later acquitted.
Another incident that highlighted the crackdown on homosexuals in the country was the arrest of eight defendants charged with “perversion and offending public morals”, ending in their sentencing to one year in prison. The eight men were arrested after being found guilty of “inciting debauchery”, when a video of an unofficial same-sex wedding showing the two defendants allegedly celebrating their marriage on a boat went viral on social media.
A report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) mentioned that since the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, at least 150 individuals have been arrested on charges of debauchery. Gay rights activists have stated that the atmosphere towards homosexuality is worse now than under the Muslim Brotherhood rule of 2012-13.
The most high profile incident occurred in 2001, when over 50 males were arrested on a boat on charges related to homosexual acts and “Satanism”, with some receiving prison sentences.
In Egypt, no specific law outlaws homosexuality or being transgendered. However, in most cases, the prosecution uses Article 9 of Law 10/1961, which is concerned with “debauchery”, to convict people accused of engaging in homosexuality.
The law is most frequently used to accuse defendants of prostitution.
The Interior Ministry contains a “vice police” department, which is responsible for arresting defendants charged with crimes related to sexuality, moral violations, or indecency. The department has its own investigations unit, police force, and separate units in police stations.