Europe, Activists Pressure Egypt on Gays
April 11, 2003
By Jon ben Asher, 365Gay.com
Amnesty International has issued an urgent global appeal
on behalf of a 26-year-old man who has been imprisoned in Egypt after
arranging to meet a man through a popular gay Web site.
Wassim Tawfiq Abyad was convicted of “habitual
debauchery” and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment after replying to a
personals ad on a U.K.-based Web site and setting up a meeting with the man
who had placed the ad. It is believed the man was a police informant. E-mail
and Web chat exchanges between the two men on were used as evidence against
Wissam in court.
Amnesty International said Thursday it is very concerned
that the Egyptian authorities are pursuing a policy of Internet entrapment to
persecute gay men.
Also on Thursday, the European Union parliament urged
Egypt to “stop persecuting gays and to prohibit discrimination on grounds of
sexual orientation,” according to Agence France-Presse.
Nora Cranston, Amnesty International campaigner for
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, said: “It’s shocking that
a man has been locked up in Egypt for exactly the same kind of private
communication taken for granted by thousands of men in the U.K.”
Cranston is calling for a massive letter-writing campaign
protesting the use of entrapment to the Egyptian government.
“The Egyptian government must receive a clear message
from people all over the world that persecution of people for their sexual
orientation is unacceptable, and that Internet entrapment is a clear violation
of fundamental human rights,” Cranston said.
There have been several cases of men being arrested and
charged after arranging to meet people they first contacted on the Internet.
Although Egypt has repeatedly declared to the United
Nations that “homosexuality is not a criminal offence in itself,” Egyptian
authorities are engaged in a policy of arresting and imprisoning men on the
basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
More than 50 men were prosecuted for “habitual
debauchery,” and 21 were imprisoned after being arrested at the Queen Boat
nightclub in May 2001.
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