A court in Egypt sentenced a TV journalist to 12 months’ jail time on Sunday for “promoting homosexuality” after he interviewed a gay man, state-run media reported.
Mohammed al-Gheiti was also accused of “contempt of religion” after inviting the guest onto his show, according to Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram website.
Al-Gheiti also received a fine of 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($167) and will be placed under surveillance for one year after finishing his prison time, according to Al-Ahram.
The verdict, handed down by the misdemeanors court in Giza, can be appealed.
The sentence can be suspended pending the outcome of the appeal if al-Gheiti pays 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($56) in bail, lawyer Samir Sabri, who filed legal papers against the TV host, told AFP.
CNN has been unable to reach a lawyer for al-Gheiti.
Al-Gheiti has spoken out against homosexuality on multiple occasions.
The sentence relates to an August 2018 interview with a gay man as part of a show called “Wake Up” on the private station LTC TV.
With his face blurred to prevent identification, the man told al-Gheiti about homosexuality, his life as a sex worker and his relationship with another man.
Lawyers for the prosecution said that the show mentioned financial gains and the benefits of homosexuality, according to Al-Ahram.
The episode featured Mustafa Mekki, a journalist who said he posed as a gay man on the dating app Grindr to learn more about Egypt’s gay community.
“Many of the men I met through the application are unhappy with what they’ve involved themselves in and want to change their situation”, Mekki told al-Gheiti. “I met kids as young as 14.”
The anonymous guest was one of the first men that Mekki met on the app, he told al-Gheiti.
While homosexuality is not mentioned in the Egyptian penal code, and technically it is not illegal, members of the LGBT community are often arrested and charged with pornography, prostitution or debauchery.
In the wake of the interview, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, Egypt’s top media body, shut down LTC TV for two weeks citing “professional violations,” according to AFP.
LTC TV fell foul of a council decision “banning the appearance of homosexuals or promotion of their slogans.”
Authorities introduced the rule after a rainbow flag – a symbol of pride for the LGBT community – was held aloft by members of the crowd at a 2017 concert in Cairo.
The public display of LGBT pride inspired an official crackdown on suspected homosexuals, which was heavily criticized by Amnesty International and other rights groups.
This latest court ruling sends a “dangerous message,” a spokesman for Amnesty International told CNN via email. “It represents yet another blow against freedom of expression, the LGBTI community and diversity in Egypt.”
CNN’s Jack Guy wrote from London and Nada Altaher reported from Abu Dhabi.