Frank Attacks Bush’s Silence on Egypt Trial
December 24, 2001
By Paul Johnson
SUMMARY: Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., has criticized the Bush
administration for not pressing Egypt on its persecution of gays.
WASHINGTON—Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., has
criticized the Bush administration for not pressing Egypt on its persecution
During debate in the House of Representatives on the foreign aid package
for Egypt, the gay congressman warned that cooperation between Egypt and the
United States on many issues of mutual concern may be negatively impacted if
Egypt’s persecution and mistreatment of gays continues.
Last May, 52 men were arrested in a gay club in Cairo on suspicion of
engaging in homosexual behavior. The Egyptian government prosecuted the men on
charges of "habitual debauchery" and "contempt of
religion" under the country’s Emergency Law, which is intended to crack
down on terrorist groups and other threats to national security.
The Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2002 provides
$1.3 billion in military assistance and $655 million in economic assistance to
During debate on the measure, Frank stated in part, "The Egyptian
government ought to understand that it cannot with impunity continue to be so
oppressive toward people’s human rights, and in particular, its most recent
outbreak of severe, unjustified, blatant prejudice, jailing men for no good
reason whatsoever. They cannot continue to do that and not have it have an
effect on how people view Egypt here and how people deal with Egypt. I hope
Egypt will once again play a more active, constructive role in the Middle
Last August, before the trials of these men began, Rep. Frank organized a
letter to Egyptian President Mubarak, which was signed by 35 members of the
House of Representatives, calling the arrest and prosecution of these men on
the basis of their perceived sexual orientation indefensible.
The letter stated in part, "As you know, Egypt is the second largest
recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. We note that this assistance comes from
the people of the United States, including a great number of taxpayers who are
gay and lesbian, and it is approved by members of Congress, many of whom are
fully supportive of the right of gay and lesbian people to be free from
discrimination and violence. Given this, it is very troubling for us to hear
that these Egyptian men are not only facing trial and possible jail sentences,
but also may have been mistreated, beaten or tortured while in
Since then, 23 of these men were sentenced to hard labor prison terms of
between one and five years, and at least four more were arrested and are
currently in detention.
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