Last edited: December 08, 2004

Congressmen Condemn Egypt

The Advocate, August 7, 2001

U.S. representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) released a letter Monday signed by 35 members of the House of Representatives and addressed to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak expressing strong disapproval over the arrest of 52 men in Egypt on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation. The 52 men were arrested in Cairo in a gay club called the Queen Nile on suspicion of engaging in consensual homosexual behavior. The Egyptian government is prosecuting the men on charges of "obscene behavior" and "contempt for religion" under the country’s Emergency Law, which is intended to crack down on terrorist groups and other threats to national security. The trial is scheduled to begin on August 15, 2001. The letter states, "We believe the decision of the Egyptian government to prosecute these men who have been accused of engaging in consensual sexual activity with adult persons of the same sex, and in a state security court under Egypt’s emergency laws, is indefensible." The letter adds, "As you know, Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. We note that this assistance comes from the people of the United States, including a great number of taxpayers who are gay and lesbian, and it is approved by members of Congress, many of whom are fully supportive of the right of gay and lesbian people to be free from discrimination and violence. Given this, it is very troubling for us to hear that these Egyptian men are not only facing trial and possible jail sentences, but also may have been mistreated, beaten, or tortured while in detention." The letter was drafted by Frank and cosponsored by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), cochair of the congressional human rights caucus.

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