German MPs Want Egypt to End Trial of Homosexuals
Reuters, September 5, 2001
BERLINA group of German parliamentarians called
on Egypt on Wednesday to end a controversial trial of 52 suspected homosexual
men accused of sexual immorality.
In a letter sent to the Egyptian ambassador, a cross-party group of 30
parliamentarians called on Cairo to stop the court case, which began in July,
and release the men immediately.
"I hope that the accusations against this group of men will be dropped
and that they will be released without delay.
"That should have happened a long time ago if Egyptian law and
international conventions ratified by Egypt had been respected," said the
letter signed by the parliamentarians.
The letter also calls on the Egyptian government to investigate accusations
of mistreatment and torture of the men.
The main charge against them is of "sexual immorality," which
carries a maximum penalty of three years.
The two main defendants face additional charges of "forming a group
which aims to exploit the Islamic religion to propagate extremist ideas"
and "denigrating monotheistic religions," which carry a maximum
International human rights organisations have said the men were being tried
on account of their possible sexual orientation and for exercising freedom of
speech and association.
Homosexuality is taboo in Egypt, but not expressly prohibited by law.
The initiator of the protest letter, Green Party politician Volker Beck,
fought for 11 years for a law allowing homosexual couples to have similar
rights to heterosexuals, which was passed in Germany last month.
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