Egypt Resumes Trial of 52 Suspected Homosexuals
Reuters, August 15, 2001
CAIROA controversial trial resumed in Cairo on
Wednesday of 52 suspected homosexual men, accused of sexual immorality and
forming a group which propagated extremist ideas and denigrated Islam.
The court case, which began in July, has prompted sharp criticism from
international rights groups, which say the men are being tried for their
possible sexual orientation and for exercising freedom of speech and
The defendants, who all plead not guilty, were detained in May in a police
raid on a floating nightclub on the Nile known locally as a popular gay venue.
If convicted, they could face five-year prison terms.
The court banned family members from attending Wednesdays second trial
session after chaotic scenes at the July 18 opening, when relatives screamed
and punched photographers saying the press has scandalised the men.
State security prosecutors began their arguments against the men in
Rights groups have criticised the decision to try the men in a state
security court under Egypts emergency laws, which have been in place since
1981 to counter Muslim militant violence.
The case, which has received extensive coverage in the local as well as
international media, has also aroused strong passions in conservative Egypt,
where homosexuality is regarded as a taboo.
The men face charges including "forming a group which aims to exploit
the Islamic religion to propagate extremist ideas" and "practising
sexual immorality" seen as a euphemism for homosexuality, which
Egyptian law does not expressly prohibit.
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