An Egyptian court has sentenced and released 17 individuals who were arrested in October for practicing homosexuality.

Although the people were released, they are required to pay a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($285) or face three years in prison, according to Reuters. The decision can be appealed in a higher court if the sentenced individuals choose to do so.

The arrests came amidst a crackdown on the LGBT community by Egyptian security forces following the raising of a rainbow flag during the concert of Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila. 

Hamed Sinno, the frontman of the indie group, is openly gay and some of the band's lyrics deal with homosexual romance.

Homosexuality isn't explicitly illegal

While 17 were just released, nearly 70 were reportedly detained following the concert, according to media reports.

While homosexuality is not explicitly illegal in Egypt, according to The Guardian, police routinely arrest individuals using decades-old prostitution and debauchery laws. 

Also in October, Egyptian MP Riyad Abdel Sattar - along with 14 other lawmakers - proposed a new anti-gay law in the country, gay social network Hornetapp reported

The draft law suggests that homosexuals receive a prison sentence of up to 5 years. It also suggests that LGBT allies are put in jail for a maximum of 3 years. 

Seven articles are included in the draft law, detailing what is considered illegal in the country in terms of intimate relationships, including same-sex relationships. 

"Any person engaging in homosexuality in a public or private place should be subjected to punitive action that should be no less than one year and not exceeding three years in jail," the draft states, according to Al Araby.

Egyptian police target homosexuals through dating apps

It was also revealed recently that Egyptian police have been using queer dating apps, such as Grindr, to crackdown on the LGBT community.

In response, Grindr and Hornet, two U.S. based gay dating apps, sent tips to Egyptian users in Arabic, warning them to take precautions while using the app. 

Grindr has advised users to communicate their whereabouts with friends before going on a date with someone they meet on the app. It also asked users to check if they have mutual friends with their potential date. 

"It will make people take more precautions ... we know that the police are under pressure to arrest people and they are going about doing that through all the avenues that they have," Jack Harrison-Quintana, a director at Grindr, said.

Grindr Egypt
Message displayed to Grindr users in Egypt

Earlier this year, a 34-year-old Egyptian man, who identifies as gay but wished to remain anonymous, told StepFeed that he has to deny his sexual orientation "all the time."

"In certain classes it's becoming more acceptable. Upper classes or intellectuals," he said. However, he fears he could get arrested if his sexual identity is revealed. 

The man explained that many within the country's LGBTQ community are living in fear especially since "there are no places to seek protection." He believes "education" is the most important tool in combatting the problems and social stigma.