Egyptian Court Sentences 21 Men Linked to Gay Sex Counts
Associated Press, March 15,
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
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
Some of the defendants are expected to appeal the
“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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