Last edited: December 05, 2004

Closure of Ancient Baths Angers Gays

The Washington Blade, February 23, 2001
World Briefs

By Will O’Bryan

EGYPT — An order from the ministries of culture and tourism to close 13 public baths in Cairo has sparked criticism from the city’s Gay male community, the London Daily Telegraph reported. While the ministries maintain that the baths some of which are more than 500 years old must be closed in order to renovate them, the Gay community is charging that the closures are a crackdown on Gays gathering.

"The government knows these are the only places we have to meet and so they are trying to restrict us further," the Daily Telegraph quoted a Gay activist as saying. The report added that government officials have also shut down Gay-related Egyptian Web sites.

Rather than meeting in bars, Gay men in Cairo traditionally have used the ancient bath houses, or hamams, as meeting places. While Cairo remains one of the more socially tolerant cities of the Middle East, Gays are generally not open about their sexual orientation. Last year, Egyptian police arrested two men after discovering they had signed a confidential marriage contract together.

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