Egypt: The Hunt Against Homosexuals Continues
Additional Arrests Reported in Alexandria
International Gay and
Lesbian Human Rights Commission
1360 Mission Street, Suite 200 o San Francisco, CA 94103 USA
For Immediate Release: January 20, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO—At least eight more men have been arrested in Egypt on
suspicion of homosexual behavior, in what the press called a crackdown on a
"network of perverts." The arrests, following on last year’s trial
of 52 men for homosexuality, suggest a steadily growing pattern of
persecution. At the same time the trial of four men arrested for homosexuality
on November 10, 2001 opened today in Cairo and was postponed until next week.
"Enough is enough! The government of Egypt must stop these arrests
now," declared Scott Long, Program Director of the International Gay and
Lesbian Human Rights Commission. "Too many people are sitting in jail
whose only crime is to be suspected of homosexuality. Homosexuality is not
perverse, the behavior of the Egyptian government is."
The independent newspaper Al-Wafd reported on January 20 that eight men
were arrested for the "practice of debauchery" in Damanhour, capital
of the province of Al-Beheira, southwest of Alexandria.
Police confiscated "an address book containing the names and addresses
of a large number of perverts," the newspaper said, raising fears of
"With these arrests and the fear of more to come, the Egyptian
authorities are terrorizing their own population," added Mr. Long.
The newspaper article was headlined, "Major Network of Perverts
Arrested in Al-Beheira: Social Security employee used his home as a lair for
the practice of debauchery." The report said that "A group of
investigators stormed the apartment, and the eight defendants were caught in
debauched positions during a party for group perversions. They were wearing
nightgowns and makeup."
The civil servant who owned the apartment was arrested along with all
others present. The prisoners reportedly included an upholsterer (52 years
old), a shoe-shiner (52 years old), a factory employee (37 years old), a
mechanic (32 years old), and a carter (19 years old).
All are being held for four days—presumably until January 23—"pending
investigations." Damanhour prosecutor Yaseen Zaghloul ordered that the
men be subjected to medical examinations of their genitals and anuses.
In related news, the trial of four men arrested for homosexuality on
November 10, 2001, in the Boulak suburb of Cairo, opened today, but was
postponed for a week because the jail had neglected to send the prisoners to
court. The judge opened the proceedings by demanding of the bailiff,
"Where are the khawalat [a demeaning term for transvestites or
homosexuals]. Bring in the khawalat"—language indicating that the
chance of a fair hearing in the case is slim.
Provisions in Egypt’s Law 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution
criminalizing the "habitual practice of debauchery" are widely used
not only against sex workers but against consensual homosexual behavior. The
arrest raids mentioned above, including the "Cairo 52," are based on
this law. In addition two Egyptian university students were entrapped by
undercover police agents and sent to hard labor under this law.
In the "Cairo 52" case the Emergency State Security Court in
Cairo sentenced 23 presumed homosexuals to one to five years of hard labor on
November 14. These sentences cannot be appealed. At the same time the Court
acquitted 29 additional defendants. Despite international pleas the Egyptian
government refuses to pardon the remaining 23 men.
All fifty-two were arrested on the night of the May 10, 2001 in a raid of
the Queen Boat discotheque in Cairo or in random police pickups during the
following days. The 52 were held for over six months without bail. Defense
lawyers argued that proper arrest procedures were not followed, that the
arrests were made at random, and that charges were fabricated after the
arrest. There are enough irregularities in the arrests and handling of this
case to suggest that the "Cairo 52" may have been framed. The
State-controlled media engaged in a campaign of vilification against the 52,
publishing their names, and creating an environment of scandal around them,
branding them perverts, blasphemous, and traitors.
The Cairo 52 trials have been condemned by international human rights
organizations, members of US Congress and the United Nations.
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