Last edited: February 13, 2005

Cairo Court Frees Four Convicted in Gay Club Raid, June 5, 2003

By Jon ben Asher, European Bureau Chief

CAIRO—An appeals court Wednesday freed four of the 21 men convicted to three years in prison following a raid on a Cairo gay club in 2001.

In all police arrested 52 men during a raid on the Queen Boat, a floating disco on charges of “debauchery” and “practicing sexual immorality”.

In addition to the 21 convicted on “morals” charges, two men described as ringleaders were sent to prison for 5 years on charges of “affronting Islam”.

Following an outcry over the harshness of the sentences from Western countries and Human rights activists Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak ordered a new trial for all but the two men who ran the club.

In March a court reaffirmed the original verdicts. The 21 men who were convicted appealed and were released on bail pending the outcome of the appeal.

Only four of the 21 appeared for the appeal hearing. Human rights activists said the others were too afraid to go to court.

The hearing took place in the presence of several European diplomats who have followed the two-year-old court proceedings from the start.

The presiding judge reduced the sentences of the four to the year they spent in prison awaiting the second trial, and rejected the appeals of the men who did not show up in court saying they could ask for a new appeal at a later date.

While homosexuality is not one of a list of sexual offenses explicitly outlawed by Egypt’s Islamic-inspired legislation, it can be punished under several different laws on morality.

Since the raid on the Queen Boat Egyptian police have arrested dozens of other gay men, many of them entrapped through internet personal ads placed by police informants.

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