UN Panel Rebukes Egypt’s Anti-Gay Trials
Network, August 21, 2002
A United Nations panel has issued a report that denounces the Egyptian
government’s recent practice of arresting and trying men who are suspected
of being gay.
The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention cited the upcoming retrial of
50 suspected gay men, despite government claims that homosexuality is not a
crime. The men, 29 of whom were acquitted during the first trial last year,
are charged with "debauchery," a blanket offense.
"The detention of the above-mentioned persons prosecuted in the
grounds that, by their sexual orientation, they incited ‘social dissension’
constitutes arbitrary deprivation of liberty," the U.N. group said in its
report, which called on Egypt to redress the situation and amend its laws.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) praised
"The decision refutes a key claim of the Egyptian government—that
consensual sexual conduct between men is not criminalised in Egyptian
law," said Scott Long, IGLHRC program director, in a written statement.
"The international community must now recognize that the legislation
Egypt invokes in these cases violates basic human rights."
The 50 men awaiting their second trial were first arrested in May 2001 on a
floating nightclub on the Nile River. President Hosni Mubarak threw out their
sentences, including the acquittals, in June and ordered a retrial, which is
scheduled for Sept. 7.
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