Last edited: January 03, 2005

Egyptian Court Sentences 21 Men Linked to Gay Sex Counts

Associated Press, March 15, 2003

CAIRO—A criminal court sentenced 21 men to three years in jail Saturday on charges stemming from a suspected gay sex party in a case condemned by Egyptian and international human rights groups as persecution of homosexuals.

The officials told The Associated Press that another 29 men were acquitted in the retrial, which began in July following an order by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The officials said the defendants were not in court to hear the verdicts, but their lawyers attended.

The 21 were sentenced to three years jail on charges of practicing debauchery, the officials said.

The defendants were among 52 men arrested in a May 2001 police raid on a Nile boat restaurant on suspicion they had taken part in a gay sex party.

The Emergency State Security Court initially sentenced 23 of them in November, 2001, to jail terms ranging from one to five years. The rest were acquitted.

Mubarak, in his capacity as Egypt’s military ruler, last May ordered 50 of the men—including the 29 acquitted—be retried on the debauchery counts before a lower court, annulling the original verdicts because the emergency courts did not have the jurisdiction to hear the charges.

Human rights groups and the international community have denounced the trials and condemned Egypt, where homosexuality is met with zero-tolerance. It is not explicitly referred to in the Egyptian legal system, but a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution and public morality are punishable by jail terms.

The new court, which issued harsher sentences than the first trial, considered medical tests used as evidence against several defendants and their confessions of practicing debauchery, the court officials said.

Some of the defendants are expected to appeal the verdicts.

“The Egyptian authorities must release immediately and unconditionally anyone imprisoned for their actual or perceived sexual orientation,” Amnesty International said in a statement issued Thursday.

Three Egyptian human rights groups—the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, el Nadim Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Hisham Mubarak Center—issued a statement Saturday expressing “their shock and anger at issuing tough sentences against the 21 defendants.”

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