Source: YouTube

Egypt's crackdown on the LGBTQI+ community has intensified in recent years, with authorities arresting several individuals based on their sexual orientation.

But, one Egyptian film director is challenging the homophobia by standing in solidarity with the community in an upcoming film titled "The Wedding." 

Sam Abbas, also the lead character in the film, said it aims to show LGBTQI+ people in the Middle East that "they are not alone," in a statement to Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The film tells the story of a closeted gay man who is getting ready to marry a woman, a reality for many individuals in the region. 

"The film to me, more than anything, is about repression and alienation," the 24-year-old director said.

"The Middle East, especially Egypt, is not LGBTQ friendly, so hopefully it will show individuals of the community that they are not alone," the director added.

The film attempts to break the silence by highlighting the reality of the situation for individuals in the Middle East when it comes to sexuality and sexual orientation.

"It's highly relevant in the Middle East because the themes in this film are the realities of the Middle East. Exploring queer sexuality in secret, anal sex before marriage so that the girl remains pure, etc," Abbas told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The film is expected to screen in the Middle East in November to an invite-only audience. It is also expected to screen in December in select theaters in the United States. 

The filmmaker also launched an LGBTQI+-focused production company

Sam Abbas while shooting "The Wedding" Source: Wikipedia

Earlier this year, the Egyptian filmmaker launched ArabQ Films, a production company focused on LGBTQI+ themed films.

The 24-year-old, who was born in Egypt, aims to produce both feature films and documentaries highlighting struggles and realities within the LGBTQI+ community. 

All projects will have a "link to the Middle Eastern experience and will require a self-identified queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender director and/or lead producer," according to the company.

Homosexuality in Egypt

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

According to media reports from earlier this year, Egyptian police have even been targeting gay men through dating apps like Grindr. 

In 2017, a number of individuals were arrested for raising a rainbow flag during a Mashrou' Leila concert in Cairo.

The country's Musicians syndicate also said it will ban the band - whose lead singer Hamed Sinno is openly gay - from performing in the country again.

In October 2017, a number of Egyptian lawmakers reportedly proposed a new anti-gay law in the country.

The draft law suggested that homosexuals receive a prison sentence of up to five years. It also stated that LGBTQI+ allies are put in jail for a maximum of three years.