Last edited: February 14, 2005

Egypt Gay Trial Hears Lawyers’ Plea

BBC, August 15, 2001

By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

Defence lawyers for 52 Egyptian men alleged to have engaged in gay sex have appealed for them to be released and for the trial to be transferred to another court.

The case—which has been criticised by international human rights groups—is being heard in the state security court, whose verdicts are not subject to appeal.

The men have been accused of practising debauchery and the two main defendants have also been charged with using religion to spread extremist ideas.

In white prison uniforms, they were crammed into an iron cage at the side of the court, handcuffed to one another. One of the defendants, an English teacher at the British Council in Cairo, struggled to talk to reporters through the bars of the cage.Suspects covered their faces as they arrived in court

"I want to know, what have I done? I am not a criminal to be in the prison. I’ve been in the prison for 95 days, for what crime?

"People are suffering, we are really suffering. What’s the aim behind all this?"

Media trial

Although homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, it is a major cultural and social taboo.

Some of the men covered their faces with tissues to avoid being identified.

But their names and some of their addresses have been published in Egyptian newspapers. Defence lawyers say the press has already convicted them by publishing lurid and false accounts of gay orgies on board a floating disco, where most of the men were detained.

If found guilty of practising debauchery, the men could face up to three years in jail.

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