Last edited: December 17, 2004

Amnesty Slams "Immorality" Charge for Egyptian Boy

Reuters, October 30, 2001

CAIRO—Human rights group Amnesty International called on Egypt on Tuesday to free a teenager jailed for three years for "practising sexual immorality."

Prosecutors said the boy, now 16, was arrested along with 52 other men in a raid on a floating Nile nightclub called the Queen Boat, known locally as a popular gay night spot.

Then 15, he was sentenced to three years in juvenile detention last month, the maximum sentence he could receive. He faces an appeal hearing on Wednesday, Amnesty said.

"We are extremely concerned about the conviction and harsh sentencing of a child for his alleged sexual orientation," Amnesty said in a joint statement with the New York-based Human Rights Watch and two other rights groups.

"We are seriously concerned that this child was interrogated in violation of international standards," it said.

Amnesty said the 52 other men had reported being subjected to torture and ill-treatment during pre-trial detention, and that it knows of no impartial investigation into those allegations.

Those men are being tried in a state security court under emergency law and will not be allowed to appeal their verdict, due out next month.

Amnesty did not say whether it thought the boy had been tortured, but said during his first two weeks of detention he was not allowed to see his family or a lawyer.

Amnesty also disputed the prosecutors’ claims the boy was arrested in the Queen Boat raid, saying he was arrested in downtown Cairo a day later.

The Queen Boat case has drawn sharp criticism from international rights groups, which say the men are being tried for their possible sexual orientation and for exercising freedom of speech and association. All defendants plead not guilty.

Homosexuality is regarded as taboo in Egypt, but is not expressly prohibited by law.

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