U.S. Leaders Decry Egypt’s Anti-Gay Abuses
Network, May 6, 2004
By Christopher Curtis
SUMMARY: On Thursday members of the U.S. Congress sent
a letter urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to eliminate all abuses
against gay men.
On Thursday U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., sent a
letter urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to eliminate all abuses against
Rothman co-authored the letter with Reps. Barney Frank,
D-Mass., and Tom Lantos, D-Calif., and 41 other members of Congress, both
Republicans and Democratics, signed it.
“We regard the repression, entrapment and torture of
individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation to be clear
human rights violations,” Rothman and his colleagues wrote.
The lawmakers cited a 144-page Human Rights Watch report
released on March 1, 2004, which detailed testimonies of men accused of being
The men in the report claimed they were bound, suspended
in painful positions, burned with cigarettes, submerged in ice-cold water and
subjected to electrical shocks on their limbs and genitals.
Addressing President Mubarak, the letter continued: “We
sincerely hope Egypt will abide by the requirements of the treaties signed and
laws in place, and that you personally will speak out against and work to
prevent any future incidents of torture, including the torture of homosexual
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other
organizations have been documenting torture in Egypt for more than a decade.
One of the most infamous abuses against suspected gay men
occurred in May 2001, when Egyptian police arrested more than 50 men on the
Queen Boat, a floating nightclub in the Nile. Egypt sentenced 23 men to prison
terms because they were found guilty of practicing “sexual immorality,” a
euphemism for homosexuality. A total of 52 men were on trial and detained for
several months; 29 were acquitted.
Rep. Rothman hopes the letter will convince the Egyptian
government to change. He is one of five Democrats on the House Appropriations
Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, which awards foreign aid.
“Having representatives of the U.S. government send
this kind of letter has to have some pull,” explained Rothman’s press
secretary, Jeff Lieberson.
“Whether the Egyptian government is going to do
anything is a possibility. It’s worth seeing if President Mubarak is going
to do anything,” Lieberson said.
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