Accused Gay Egyptian Men Sentenced
Associated Press, November 14, 2001
By Sarah El-Deeb
CAIRO, Egypt—Twenty-three Egyptian men accused of
being gay were sentenced Wednesday to jail terms from one to five years in a
trial that human rights groups have denounced as persecution of people’s
Another 29 men also in the case were acquitted, prompting cries of joy from
relatives who had denied the charges and accused the Egyptian media during the
four-month trial of sensationalism and destroying the young men’s
There were chaotic scenes outside the courthouse before the verdicts were
announced. Only a few people had been allowed into the courtroom, and police
wielding sticks drove back a crowd of about 200 relatives, lawyers,
journalists and passers-by outside.
When news of the sentences came in bits and pieces from people leaving the
court, one elderly woman joyfully distributed sweets and soft drinks, saying
she had heard her son was among those acquitted.
The men were put to trial after police raided a Nile boat restaurant in May
and accused them of taking part in a gay sex party. Egyptian law does not
explicitly refer to homosexuality, and prosecutors leveled charges including
debauchery and contempt of religion.
Sherif Farahat received the longest sentence—five years for debauchery,
contempt of religion, falsely interpreting the Quran and exploiting Islam to
promote deviant ideas. Mahmoud Ahmed Allam received three years on the
religious charges, but was acquitted of debauchery.
Twenty others were sentenced to two years and one man was sentenced to one
"Egypt will not be used for the defamation of manhood and will not be
a hub for gay communities," prosecutor Ashraf Hilal told the court in
The accused entered the courtroom Wednesday wearing white prison uniforms
and hiding their faces behind masks and handkerchiefs.
Local and international human rights groups criticized the trial. Amnesty
International accused Egypt of prosecuting people for their sexual orientation
and said the type of court, the Emergency State Security Court, was not
Earlier Wednesday, a director of the U.S.-based International Gay and
Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Scott Long, said the government was
manipulating religion in its prosecution of the accused.
"Fifty-two lives, 52 reputations and 52 human beings are being
damaged. This is what is brutal about this," Long said.
Among those arrested on the Nile boat was a teen-ager who had already been
sentenced to three years’ in prison for homosexuality. The boy, who is 15
according to court papers but 16 according to Amnesty, was tried separately
and is appealing the verdict in a juvenile court.
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