Last edited: February 20, 2005

Egyptian Court Agrees to Make Police Testify in Gay Sex Trial

Agence France-Presse, September 8, 2002

CAIRO—A Cairo court on Saturday heard the defence lawyers of 50 Egyptians accused of gay sex, and agreed to their request to make the police officers who arrested them testify before the court.

Hassan Al Sayess, the presiding judge at the Abdine criminal court in central Cairo, said the three police officers will testify at the next hearing, set for Oct. 12.

The group of men, most of them in their 20s, are not held in custody and four of them showed up in court for the trial that opened on July 27.

One of their lawyers, Mahmud Abdul Al, repeated that his clients were innocent, and asked the judge to permit a cross-examination of the police officers.

The defendants were reportedly arrested following a May 11, 2001, evening on the Queen Boat nightclub on the Nile.

Homosexuality is not explicitly prohibited under Egyptian law which is based on Sharia, or Islamic, rulings, although numerous statutes condemn conduct deemed to be an affront to public morality.

The group underwent a first trial by the state security court which sentenced 23 of the men to prison last November, mostly for one to two years, on charges related to practising homosexuality, and acquitted 29 others.

But President Hosni Mubarak, empowered to cancel judgements and grant amnesties, ordered their retrial in May, saying the case did not fall under the jurisdiction of the state security court.

However, he upheld jail terms against the two leading defendants, Sherif Farahat and Mahmud Ahmed Allam, of five and three years respectively after they were accused of "scorning religion." Farahat was also charged with "sexual practices contrary to Islam."

When the first trial opened on July 18, 2001, it sparked protests from Western gay rights groups and human rights organisations.

Pressure from Western officials continued until Mubarak’s decision to throw out the verdicts and order a retrial.

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