Gay Retrial Adjourned in Egypt
BBC News, July 27, 2002
By Nick Thorpe, BBC correspondent in Cairo
The trial of 50 men in Cairo accused of depraved behaviour for their
alleged homosexual leanings has been adjourned by the judge to give the
defence more time to prepare its case.
Twenty-one of the men were originally convicted of the offence last
But the state security court verdict was overturned by President Hosni
Mubarak, who ordered that the case be heard again in an ordinary criminal
The trial of the men continues in both senses of the word.
Judge Hassan al-Sayess read out the names of the accused at a court in
Only their lawyers were present—the men avoid appearing in public
whenever possible because of verbal attacks against them in the Egyptian
One defence lawyer then complained about the retrying of those men who had
already been acquitted, and the judge then adjourned the case until September.
Homosexuality was until recently quietly tolerated in Egypt, but the
authorities began a major crackdown in May last year with a night raid on a
disco where some of the men were arrested.
Homosexuality itself is not a crime—the men are charged with offending
Two other men, also convicted last November, are already serving three and
five year prison terms, and their cases are not subject to a re-trial.
Different explanations have been put forward to explain the crackdown. One
is the growing public visibility of Egypt’s gay community because of the
Another is that this is a move to please conservative Muslim clerics, to
distract them from the fact that up to 15,000 Islamic activists remain in
prison, in many cases without formal charges having been brought against them.
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