Last edited: December 05, 2004

Egyptian Teen Punished in Gay Trial

Associated Press, September 18, 2001

CAIRO, Egypt — A 15-year-old boy was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for practicing homosexuality, the first verdict in the mass Egyptian gay trial that has drawn wide condemnation.

The youth, who was found guilty of homosexuality and debauchery, will serve his sentence in a prison for young offenders, a juvenile court ordered.

The youth screamed and sobbed as the verdict was read. The court said he underwent a medical examination that proved he had committed debauchery.

Gasser Abdel-Razek, an Egyptian human rights activist, said the ruling was "alarming (because) I believe it is based on what the judge thinks is socially acceptable or rejected, which ruins the whole concept of the rule of law."

The teen-ager was arrested May 11 along with 52 other males aboard a Nile riverboat restaurant in Cairo.

The trial of the 52 other defendants, which is being conducted in an emergency state security court, is expected to resume Wednesday. They have all pleaded not guilty.

The court said it ordered the maximum penalty after the youth confessed to practicing homosexuality and being a member of a gay organization. Defense lawyers earlier disputed confessions of some of the defendants, saying they were made under duress during interrogation.

Debauchery carries a maximum prison sentence of three years.

The court said the 15-year-old will remain under police supervision for three years after his release from jail.

International gay and human rights groups have condemned the charges, while the case has rocked Egypt, a conservative, Islamic-oriented country.

Homosexuality is not explicitly referred to in the Egyptian legal system, but a wide range of laws covering obscenity and public morality are punishable by jail terms.

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