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Egyptian Lawmaker to Propose Anti-Gay Bill as Part of Crackdown

FILE - A gay Egyptian lights his cigarette in Cairo, Egypt.

An Egyptian lawmaker is introducing a draft bill that would imprison those engaging in or promoting same-sex relations, a copy of the draft seen by Reuters on Thursday showed.

Amnesty International said the bill is “another nail in the coffin for sexual rights in Egypt” and should be scrapped.

It would introduce sentences of to up to 10 years in prison for people engaging in or promoting same-sex relations.

The law is part of a wider crackdown against homosexuality that started in September when a group of people were seen raising a rainbow flag at a concert, a rare public show of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the conservative Muslim country.

“If passed, this law would further entrench stigma and abuse against people based on their perceived sexual orientation,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

”The Egyptian authorities must urgently scrap this draft law and put an end to this alarming wave of homophobic persecution,” Bounaim added.

The crackdown comes as Egypt, a main Western ally in the Middle East, is under fire for its human rights record and the United States has withheld some of its $1.3 billion in annual military aid.

At least 70 people have been arrested and some have been subjected to anal examinations that amount to torture since September.

Homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt but discrimination is rife. Gay men are frequently arrested and typically charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy.

Egyptian authorities do not deny going after gays.

Gay men and rights activists say the LGBT community has been facing an aggressive crackdown since 2013, when general-turned-President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as military chief ousted Egypt's first freely elected civilian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.