Last edited: February 14, 2005

Egyptian Teen Sentenced in Gay Trial

Datalounge, September 19, 2001

CAIRO, Egypt — In the first sentence handed down in Egypt’s trial of 52 gay and bisexual men, a 15-year-old has been sentenced to three years in prison for "practicing homosexuality," the Associated Press reports.

The trial, which has drawn the condemnation of international human rights groups and objections from the West, followed a May 11 government raid on the Queen Boat nightclub, once a popular gay club in central Cairo.

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.

Court observers say the doctor’s report cited by the prosecution is linked to reports made by human rights groups that the prisoners have been forced to undergo invasive rectal examinations.

Ashraf al-Zannati, an Arabic language teacher at the British Council in Cairo, said earlier this month through the iron bars of the courtroom cage that the defendants were subjected to a weekly "session of torture."

Egyptian human rights activist Gasser Abdel-Razek told the Associated Press 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 trial of 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.

Defense lawyer Farid al-Dib has suggested that confessions had been forced out of the defendants and urged the presiding judge to dismiss the charges, arguing that the state prosecution’s had been fabricated. "The whole case, from beginning to end, has been oppression upon oppression," Dib told the court. He maintained that none of the accused were gay.

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