Egypt Tells EU to Butt Out on Gay Trials
April 19, 2003
By Jon ben Asher, European Bureau Chief
Cairo—The Speaker of Egypt’s parliament has unleashed
a verbal attack on the European Union for passing a resolution accusing the
Egyptian government of persecuting gays.
Ahmed Fathi Sorour called the EU resolution
“unwarranted meddling”. The letter was released publicly as a Cairo court
sentenced more than a dozen men to prison for “debauchery” a term the
Egyptian government uses to describe gay sex. The sentences were the latest in
a series of high profile gay arrests and prison sentences.
In March a criminal court sentenced 21 men to three years
in jail last month on charges of practicing debauchery. They were arrested in
a May 2001 police raid on a Nile boat restaurant on suspicion they had taken
part in a gay sex party.
Human rights groups and Western diplomats have condemned
Egypt’s harsh treatment of homosexuality.
“No one has the right to give lessons to the other,”
Sorour wrote in the letter to Pat Cox, president of the European Union
Sorour accused the EU of “oversimplifying dangerous
Other cultures must “respect the right of the people
(Egyptians) to choose freely their legal system, and to protect their
religious and cultural values,” he wrote.
Earlier this week US congressman Barney Frank (D Mass)
accused the Egyptian ambassador of lying in statements made by Nabil Fahmy
that gays were not persecuted in Egypt.
“Based on the recent convictions and the continued
arrests of gay men in Egypt . . .I can come to no other conclusion than that
you lied to me,” Frank’s letter said.
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