Last edited: January 26, 2005

Europe, Activists Pressure Egypt on Gays, April 11, 2003

By Jon ben Asher,

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.

[Home] [World] [Egypt]