Egypt Homosexual Gay Prison Arrest
An Egyptian police soldier stands guarding fifty-two Egyptians, suspected homosexuals, in a Cairo court. Reuters

An Egyptian court has sentenced four men to eight years in prison for committing homosexual acts, a judicial official confirmed.

Three were sentenced to eight years in prison while the fourth was handed a three-year sentence.

The four men were accused of hosting "deviant" sex parties, dressing in women's clothes and wearing make-up, even though homosexual acts are not explicity illegal under Egyptian law.

Prosecutors have used a law which bans "debauchery" to sentence homosexuals and, on some occasions, accused homosexuals are forced to undergo medical tests to establish if they are or not.

NGO Human Rights First said it was "alarmed" by the court's verdict over the four men.

"Egypt is a bellwether state in the Arab region; what happens in Egypt sets a trend for developments throughout the Arab world," the group said in a statement.

With the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamad Morsi, Egypt has begun to crackdown on personal freedoms, as demonstrated by a string of recent imprisonments of international journalists and activists.

One unnamed LGBT activist told BuzzFeed: "Police have been increasingly targeting us in areas in which we were previously safe.

"These are areas that we could previously go to and gather and police would turn the other way, now they are coming to arrest us there."

This case is reminiscent of the 2001 mass trial of 52 men accused of committing homosexual acts where 23 were sentenced to five years in prison with manual labour.