Egypt Releases 11 Charged With Gay Crimes
Newscenter, July 21, 2003
By Jon ben Asher, European Bureau Chief
Cairo—A Cairo appeals court Sunday acquitted 11 men
accused of ‘debauchery’, a euphemism by Egyptian authorities for
homosexuality, but not without being forced to listen to a homophobic lecture
from the presiding judge.
“We are so disgusted with you, we can’t even look at you. What you did
is a major sin, but unfortunately the case has procedural errors and the court
had to acquit all of you,” said Judge Mo’azer El-Marsafy.
The 11 men were arrested in sting operations and convicted in April. They
received sentences up to 11 years in prison. One of the men had been entrapped
in an internet dating site, another when his phone was bugged.
Although homosexuality is not a crime in Egypt, gays are singled out and
charged with offences from ‘debauchery’ to ‘insulting Islam’.
The trial was the latest in a series of high profile cases in which men who
were gay, or perceived to be, were targeted by police.
The most infamous trial involved 52 men arrested in 2001 during a raid on
the Queen Boat, a floating disco. They were charged with ‘debauchery’ and
‘practicing sexual immorality’. The two men described as ringleaders were
sent to prison for 5 years on charges of “affronting Islam”.
21 of the others were convicted on “morals” charges, and the others
were released. But, following an international outrage Egyptian president
Hosni Mubarak ordered a new trial for all but the two men who ran the club.
In March a court reaffirmed the original verdicts but
with reduced sentences.
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