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Arrested for rainbow flag

Egyptian authorities arrested seven people Monday who they accused of being gay and promoting homosexuality for allegedly raising the rainbow flag of the LGBT movement at a concert, filing charges even though there is no law officially banning the practice.

The flag was a rare sign of support for highly marginalized homosexuals in this conservative country and it came at a Cairo performance Friday by popular Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou' Leila, a jazzy, electro-Arabesque group whose lead singer is openly gay.

The seven arrested Monday have been charged with "inciting immorality," security officials said, adding that the Supreme State Security Prosecution acted after authorities discovered the seven had "raised the flag of homosexuals." The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to brief journalists.

Homosexuality is highly taboo in Egypt among both majority Muslims and the Christian minority, but it is not explicitly prohibited by law. In practice however, the state regularly seeks to prosecute individuals under alternative charges including "immorality" and "debauchery," which are normally reserved for prostitution. Prosecutors also sometimes charge them with "blasphemy," also considered a crime in a country with severe limits on free speech.



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