Egyptian President Orders Gay Retrial
May 28, 2002
CAIRO, Egypt—The BBC reports court officials in
Egypt say President Hosni Mubarak has intervened and ordered the retrial of 21
men convicted last year on charges of "practicing sexual
immorality," a local euphemism for homosexuality.
In an order signed by Mubarak the men will be freed while awaiting a new
trial. The government has also officially abandoned its plans to retry 29
other men found not guilty.
Observers say the president now admits the "immorality" charge
does not, under Egyptian law, justify a trial before a Security Court—a
separate trial procedure designed for "terrorists" and threats to
An Emergency State Security Court for Misdemeanors in Cairo sentenced 23
men accused of homosexual acts to one to five years at hard labor on November
14, 2001. At the same time the Court acquitted 29 additional defendants. Most
of these men, including all 29 acquitted, must apparently now undergo a new
Under the rules established by the state security courts, the Egyptian
president is the only government official who could have voided the
convictions made by the security court.
The 52 were arrested on or around the night of May 10/11, 2001. That night,
police raided the Queen Boat disco in Cairo; other police pickups followed in
the next days.
The 52 were tortured, and jailed until their trial. Defense lawyers argued
that proper arrest procedures were not followed, that the arrests were made at
random, and that charges were fabricated by ambitious vice squad officers.
The state-controlled media engaged in a campaign of vilification against
the 52, publishing their names and branding them perverts, blasphemers, and
Mubarak overturned the convictions of 21 of the men on the grounds that the
security court did not have proper authority to hear the charges.
He ordered that they be retried in a regular misdemeanors court along with
the 29 who had been acquitted. He let stand the convictions of two men charged
with "denigrating monotheistic religions."
"Since November, Egypt has sentenced many other men for homosexual
conduct, in other trials," said Scott Long of the International Gay and
Lesbian Human Rights Commission, "and the arrests continue. The President’s
reported action does nothing for other victims still in prison."
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