An Egyptian newspaper has been banned for claiming that three high-profile actors were gay.

The weekly independent Al Balagh Al Gadid claimed that Nour El Sherif, Khaled Aboul Naga and Hamdi El Wazir were questioned by police for allegedly being part of a gay prostitution ring.

According to the newspaper, the activities were discovered at the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel in Cairo.

Police have denied the claims but the newspaper says they were bribed by the celebrities to keep the story quiet.

Since the story broke last week, El Sheif, Naga and El Wazir have filed lawsuits against the newspaper’s chief editor, executive chief editor and a reporter.

The newspaper has now been banned by the Egyptian Higher Council for Journalism.

Egypt, which is a predominantly Muslim country, does not specifcally prohibit homosexuality. However, it is deeply taboo and gays have been arrested under morality and decency laws.

For many, being accused of homosexuality is worse than being accused of prostitution.

According to the Los Angeles Times, El Sherif said: “Naming me among other homosexuals defamed me and all Egyptian artists. The Journalists’ Syndicate has to be firm with anyone trying to insult the dignity of Egyptian artists.”