Last edited: February 14, 2005

Mubarak Orders New Trial for 50 Egyptians

Advocate, May 24, 2002

Egypt’s president ordered the retrial of 50 men accused of gay sex and debauchery, but he endorsed the prison sentences for the two main defendants in the case, prosecution officials said Wednesday. An Emergency State Security Court sentenced 23 men in November to jail terms ranging from one to five years on charges of taking part in a gay sex party on a Nile River floating restaurant in May 2001. Another 29 men were acquitted.

President Hosni Mubarak ordered 50 of the men to be retried in a lower misdemeanor court because they were accused only of debauchery, not contempt of religion, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. In ordering the retrial, Mubarak also endorsed the harshest sentence, which was handed down for Sherif Farahat. Farahat, believed to have been the group’s leader, was sentenced to hard labor for debauchery, contempt of religion, falsely interpreting the Koran, and exploiting Islam to promote deviant ideas. Mubarak also endorsed the verdict against Mahmoud Ahmed Allam, who received three years’ imprisonment on the religious charges but was acquitted of debauchery.

Mubarak, acting in his capacity as Egypt’s military ruler, must approve sentences issued by the emergency court for them to become final. Emergency laws have been in place since 1981.

Following the initial trial, human rights groups and the international community condemned Egypt, where homosexuality is met with zero tolerance. It is not explicitly referred to in the Egyptian legal system, but there are a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution, and public morality, and violation of them is punishable by jail terms. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said Wednesday that it was shocked by the order for retrial. "If true, this is Egypt’s last-ditch effort to clean up its image before the international community," stated Scott Long, IGLHRC’s program director. "But dragging the convicted men into the humiliation of a new trial—while placing 29 acquitted men under the renewed threat of imprisonment—can only sully that image further."

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