Last edited: February 14, 2005

Rights Groups Slam Egypt for "Homosexuality" Case

Reuters, July 4, 2001

CAIRO — Two international rights groups on Wednesday deplored a decision by Egypt’s state prosecutor to charge 52 men on counts including obscene behaviour, saying they were being put on trial for their sexual orientation.

The men were detained in May after a police raid on a floating nightclub on the Nile which is known locally as a popular gay venue.

They were charged last month on counts including obscene behaviour with men, contempt of monotheistic faiths and abuse of religion to spread extremist ideas.

"Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission are gravely concerned that these men are being brought to trial because of their sexual orientation, as well as for the exercise of their rights to free expression and association," the two groups said in a joint statement.

Police said they had been watching the group for some time and had compiled a file on their practices before the raid on the Queen Boat club on May 9.

The media has consistently referred to the issue as the "homosexuality case," even though the men were not charged on that count and there is no Egyptian law expressly prohibiting homosexual acts.

The trial is due to begin on July 18. The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, court sources said.

Despite criticism by some groups at home and abroad, the Egyptian government and many lawyers maintain that Egypt’s judiciary is independent and the legal system is fair.

Joint press release:

Egypt: Emergency Court Trials for Homosexual Suspects - July 3, 2001

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