The Egyptian AIDS Society condemned a satellite television programme, showing police forces arresting a group of men suspected of practicing “debauchery” in a bath house in Ramses in Cairo.
The episodes, broadcast on private satellite station Al-Qahera Wal-Nas, were promoted as “revealing the reasons behind the spread of HIV in Egypt and the group sex business”. They were also described by the group as misleading and “spreading wrong facts about AIDS victims”.
The organisation vowed last week in a statement to file a lawsuit against the channel and the program presenter, Mona Iraqi.
Some members of the organisation were scheduled to be interviewed by Iraqi to spread awareness on the World AIDS Day, the organisation said.
“We were surprised that the interviews were featured with other content that we consider immoral and a complete contradiction to the group’s objectives,” it said.
Last Sunday, a force from the Egyptian anti-vice police raided a bath house in Ramses, and arrested 25 men on charges of organising same-sex “orgies”, the Ministry of Interior said on Tuesday.
The owner of the bath house is charged with “turning the place into a den for practicing homosexuality”. The customers will undergo medical examination by the Forensic Medicine Authority, the prosecution told Daily News Egypt.
The arrests were set to be reported and featured on the show, as an investigative story in three episodes. The presenter, Mona Iraqi, was shown in one of the programme’s promos filming the handcuffed semi-naked defendants.
Only one episode has been aired to date.
Iraqi’s actions sparked wide condemnation by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights activists and scores of journalists, who accused Iraqi of collaborating with the police to arrest the suspects.
Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT Rights Programme at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said: “The public humiliation of these men conducted in tandem with the media is shocking, but typical of an intensifying and troubling government clampdown on the LGBT community in Egypt.”
Reid added that “the publicity surrounding the crackdown is no coincidence. Indeed, alerting the media in advance of their dramatic raids is a deliberate tactic of the police force’s moral department.”
He argued that the latest crackdown is part of a “moral campaign such as the one being waged by [President] Al-Sisi helps to distract attention from the broader crackdown on the media, and on the political opposition.”
The Ministry of Interior is currently expanding its crackdown, Reid said, to include monitoring social media.
Online dating app Grindr has warned users in Egypt against giving out their personal information and setting up meetings with other Grindr users due to the threat of possible arrests.
Iraqi’s episode featured an undercover male investigative journalist going to the public bath and asking some of the customers and the workers whether he could rent the whole place for him and his friends privately, while hinting at organising an orgy.
Iraqi’s programme specialises in investigating controversial issues in society, such as drug dealing, human trafficking, smuggling and prostitution.
The presenter claimed that the first episode was filmed days before the arrests took place.
The episode also featured interviews with two members of the Egyptian AIDS Society, talking about the symptoms of AIDS, and possible ways of infection. During the duration of the programme, a news ticker included the sentence: “Sexual relations between males lead to AIDS infection.”