Last edited: November 15, 2003

Egyptian Court Acquits 11 Men in Gay Sex Case

The Advocate, July 22, 2003

An Egyptian appeals court grudgingly acquitted 11 men of debauchery charges for alleged gay sexual activity, one of their lawyers said Sunday. As the three-member panel issued its ruling Saturday, Judge Mo’azer El-Marsafy condemned the men even while clearing them of criminal charges, according to lawyer Helmi Al-Rawi.

“We are so disgusted with you, we can’t even look at you,” the judge said. “What you did is a major sin, but unfortunately the case has procedural errors, and the court had to acquit all of you.”

The 11 men were convicted in April and sentenced to up to three years in prison; their case was one of several that have drawn denunciations from international human rights groups. The main defendant was arrested in February after his telephone had been bugged for more than a month by officials acting on a tip. Egypt’s criminal code makes no specific mention of homosexuality, but the country uses a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution, and debauchery to prosecute gays and lesbians. Egyptian police monitor restaurants considered gay hangouts as well as Web sites catering to gay men.

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