Mass Gay Trial Begins in Egypt
Newscenter in London, July 18, 2001
By Jon Ben Asher
CairoThe trial begins today for 52 young men
arrested in a raid on a floating gay club in Cairo. It is the biggest mass gay
trial in Egyptian history.
The arrests have been denounced by international gay organizations. The men
all between 18 and 35 years of age, were arrested in May when police raided
the Queen Boat, a floating disco on the river Nile.
The case is being treated as a matter of state security and will be tried
under the emergency law established in 1981 to protect the Egyptian government
from Islamic militants.
If convicted they face three to five years in jail.
There is no right of appeal, but sentences have to be ratified by the
Although homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, regulations
on offending "public morals and sensitivities" are often used
against gay men.
Egypts prosecutor-general, Maher Abdel-Wahid, has accused the defendants
of "exploiting Islam through false interpretation of verses from the
Muslim holy book, the Koran, in order to propagate extremist ideas".
They are also charged with "performing immoral acts; the use of
perverted sexual practices as part of their rituals; contempt and despite of
heavenly religions, and fomenting strife".
For the first two weeks of their detention, they were not allowed visits or
access to lawyers and, according to relatives and friends, were subjected to
torture, whipping and electrical shocks.
As a further humiliation, the prosecutors office ordered medical tests
to determine whether they were involved in gay sex.
Newspapers published the names of the accused with their full addresses and
occupations. Several of the families of the accused say they have been
harassed by neighbours and co-workers.
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