U.S. Rights Group Condemns Egypt "Gay" Convictions
Reuters, November 15, 2001
CAIRO—A U.S.-based human rights group has condemned
the convictions of 23 Egyptian men on charges including "practising
sexual immorality," a local euphemism for homosexuality.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement sent to Reuters on
Thursday that the trial was "a miscarriage of justice" and
criticised the government’s use of state security courts that were more
susceptible to government influence.
A state security court on Wednesday sentenced one man, Sherif Farahat, to
five years in jail for "forming a group which aims to exploit the Islamic
religion to propagate extremist ideas" and "denigrating monotheistic
religions," as well as "practising sexual immorality."
The other 22 men received between one and three years, but a further 29 men
Homosexuality is regarded as taboo in Egypt, but not expressly prohibited
"The government prosecuted these men in an unfair trial, apparently in
order to distract public attention from their own unpopular policies, and to
placate conservative elements in Egyptian society," said Joe Stork,
Washington director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human
The men were tried under Egypt’s emergency laws, which allow no right of
appeal and whose verdicts can only be overturned through a petition to
President Hosni Mubarak.
Other rights groups and Western diplomats have also condemned the trial.
A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday France was concerned
by the sentencing.
"We hope that measures of clemency will intervene in their favour,"
Bernard Valero told a daily briefing of journalists, adding that France would
"continue to follow this case closely." Stork criticised the
Egyptian government’s increasing use of state security courts and military
courts, whose verdicts are more susceptible to government influence.
"The other casualty of this miscarriage of justice is the further
undermining of Egypt’s independent judiciary," he was quoted as saying
in the statement.
The men were arrested in May after a raid on a floating night-club called
the Queen Boat, known locally as a popular gay venue. Others were arrested
elsewhere on the same evening.
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