"Gay" Trial Told Egypt is No Corrupter of Men
Reuters, September 5, 2001
CAIRO The prosecution pursued its case in an
Egyptian court on Wednesday against 52 suspected homosexual men charged with
immoral behaviour, saying Egypt would never become a den for "corruption
"Egypt has not and will not be a den for the corruption of manhood and
homosexual groups will not establish themselves here," prosecutor Ashraf
Helal told the court, saying the defendants had used the Internet to promote
Police arrested the 52 men in May during a Nile River raid on a floating
nightclub called the "Queen Boat" known locally as a popular gay
venue. Some say they were seized from their homes.
All 52 face charges of "practising sexual immorality"a local
euphemism for homosexualitywith a maximum penalty of three years and a
minimum fine of 300 Egyptian pounds ($70).
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
sentence of five years.
"The first defendant confessed in the prosecutors office and this
is recorded. I didnt make it up. He confessed that he engaged in immorality
last time in 1998 by kissing and touching, and in 1996 he went all the
way," Helal told the court.
"Those men were practising sex with men without distinction," he
The case, which has received extensive coverage in the local as well as
international media, has aroused strong passions in conservative Egypt where
homosexuality is seen as taboo.
The defendants, dressed in white in large black cage, reacted angrily to
television cameras, which the court allowed into the trial for the first time
since the trial opened in July. Wednesday was the fourth session in the case.
The men have pleaded not guilty and their families say Egyptian media have
condemned them as guilty in advance.
Defence lawyer Taher Abu Nasr told Reuters most of the men had denied to
investigators they they practised homosexuality. Medical tests after their
arrest showed that 37 of them had not engaged in homosexual sex.
Lawyers have argued in court that the case has no place in a state security
court, where the men have no right of appeal.
They are being tried under Egypts emergency laws which have been in
place since 1981 to counter Muslim militant violence.
Sentences from the state security court can only be overturned via a
petition to President Hosni Mubarak.
The trial has drawn criticism from international rights groups which say
the men are being tried for their sexual orientation and denied freedom of
speech and association.
The hearings continue on September 19.
($1 = 4.26 Egyptian pounds)
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