Egypt Continues to Torture Gays
March 1, 2004
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Cairo—An international human
rights agency says despite international condemnation Egypt continues to
persecute, arrest and torture its gay citizens.
The report, by the New York-based Human Rights Watch was
released today in Cairo. Five Egyptian human rights organizations joined HRW
at a morning news conference. The appearance of representatives of the five
groups is seen as significant since in the past the organizations have turned
a blind eye to gay persecution in Egypt.
Since the mass arrest and trial of 52 men in 2001 little
in Egypt has changed the 144-page report, “In a Time of Torture: The Assault
on Justice in Egypt’s Crackdown on Homosexual Conduct,” says.
Egyptian police continue to use wire taps and a growing
web of informers to carry out raids against private homes and seize suspected
gays on the streets. The report also accuses Egyptian security agents of using
internet chat-rooms and advertisements to entrap gay men, then arrest them.
Once in custody, the report says, gay men are subjected
to torture and degrading medical examinations to prove they have engaged in
gay sexual relations. The report says that in the last three years, hundreds
of men have undergone this treatment.
The human rights abuses are carried out even though Egypt
has no law against homosexuality. Rather, it uses as a pretext laws pertaining
to “public decency” and “the protection is Islam”.
Human Rights Watch says it “knows the names of 179 men
whose cases under the law against ‘debauchery’ were brought before
prosecutors since the beginning of 2001,” adding that hundreds others have
been harassed, arrested and often tortured, but not charged.
Early last year, the rights group interviewed 63 men who
had been arrested for gay conduct. The report said they spoke of being
whipped, bound and suspended in painful positions, splashed with ice-cold
water, burned with cigarettes, shocked with electricity to the limbs, genitals
or tongue. They also said guards encouraged other prisoners to rape them,
according to the report.
By creating “a moral panic” through these arrests as
well as the scandals and stigma accompanying the cases, the Egyptian
government diverted the media from mounting political and economic crises, the
General Assem Omran, the Egyptian police official in
charge of vice, whose department was specifically mentioned in the report,
declined to comment.
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