UN Investigation Condemns Egypt Over Gay Prosecutions
By Beth Shapiro
August 20, 2002
New York—An investigation by a United Nations
agency set up to monitor the way member states observe human rights has
concluded that Egypt persecutes people because of their alleged sexual
orientation, despite governmental assertions that homosexuality is not a
Fifty men are being tried for a second time on on charges of
"debauchery". The appear next in court on September 7.
The men were arrested last year in a gay club on a Nile Riverboat.
At the original trial 23 of the defendants were found guilty. In May the
government, in the midst of international pressure, ordered a retrial, of all
Two others, accused of being the "ringleaders" were excluded from
the retrial and are serving hard labour sentences, having been convicted of
"contempt of religion.
While awaiting a court appearance at the first trial the men are alleged to
have been subjected to torture with cattle prods.
The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says: "The detention of
the above-mentioned persons prosecuted in the grounds that, by their sexual
orientation, they incited ‘social dissension’ constitutes arbitrary
deprivation o liberty."
The group’s report calls on Egypt to redress the situation and amend its
The decision also represents a ground-breaking move by the Working Group in
addressing issues of sexual orientation.
"The decision refutes a key claim of the Egyptian government— that
consensual sexual conduct between men is not criminalized in Egyptian
law," said Scott Long, Program Director of the International Gay and
Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is composed of five independent
experts, that report to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Drawn from
academics and human rights advocates in Algeria, France, Hungary, and Paraguay
they are not part of their countries delegations, and are therefore free to
represent their own expert opinions and not necessarily the official views of
[Home] [World] [Egypt]