Last edited: January 26, 2005

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 assembly.

Sorour accused the EU of “oversimplifying dangerous issues.”

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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