Protest at Egypt "Gay Detentions"
BBC Online News, June 8, 2001 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1378000/1378858.stm
The human rights organisation Amnesty International says it is
"gravely concerned" about the detention of 54 Egyptian men,
allegedly for their sexual orientation.
The men were arrested by state security and vice officers nearly a month
ago in a raid on a Nile river boat reportedly known as a meeting place for gay
Amnesty says that the men have been subjected to examinations to determine
if they had engaged in homosexual sex.
It also said they showed signs of having been tortured since their arrest
on 11 May.
The organisation has called for their "immediate and unconditional
The men many reportedly in their teens -- have been charged with
contempt of religion and immoral behaviour.
Egyptian law does not specifically prohibit homosexuality, but the charges
of contempt of religion and immoral behaviour are "very broad,"
Amnesty told BBC News Online.
A spokesman said the immoral behaviour charge was added after the medical
examinations and was "clearly" related to them.
The organisation says it has received no response from Egypts public
prosecutor to a letter expressing concern and seeking more details about the
The Cairo Times newspaper reported that the boat where the men were
arrested, the Queen Boat, has been raided before, but that suspects have never
before been transferred to the prosecutors office to face formal charges.
The newspaper said that detainees are normally released after three to 10
Amnesty has also criticised Egyptian media reporting of the arrests.
The suspects names have been published, as have some photos, places of
work and one address.
Homosexuality is taboo in Egypt, and the Cairo Times reported that several
local human rights organisations were reluctant to intervene on behalf of the
detainees because of the allegation of homosexuality.
An appeals court in Egypt recently reduced the sentences of two men found
guilty of setting up a website to promote homosexuality.
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