Last edited: February 14, 2005

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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