Last edited: February 14, 2005

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 report.

"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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