Rep. Frank Rip Egypt’s Treatment of Gays
Associated Press, February 4, 2002
By Melissa B. Robinson
WASHINGTON—Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., denounced
Egypt’s treatment of homosexuals in declining an invitation to an Egyptian
government-sponsored forum on improving cross-cultural understanding.
Frank released a letter Monday that he sent to Abderahman S. Abderahman,
minister for political and congressional affairs at the Embassy of Egypt.
"Enjoying the hospitality of those who have so harshly mistreated
people because of a basic characteristic of personality which they share with
me is not something I wish to do," wrote Frank, who is gay.
"Indeed, I would feel it a betrayal of men very much like me who have
recently been brutally arrested and imprisoned by your government for no
reason other than the way in which they chose to express affection to other
human beings in a mutually consenting relationship."
Homosexuality is not explicitly referred to in the Egyptian legal system,
but a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution and public morality
are punishable by jail terms.
Last year in Cairo, 52 men were tried on charges of immoral behavior and
contempt of religion after police raided a restaurant and accused them of
taking part in a gay sex party. Of the group, 23 men were sentenced to jail
terms of one to five years. Twenty-nine were acquitted.
The case brought widespread condemnations from human rights groups, who
said the men were unfairly targeted because of their sexual orientation.
A woman who answered the telephone at the Egyptian embassy’s press office
Monday said she was unaware of Frank’s letter and referred a reporter to
Abderahman’s office. A message left on the minister’s answering machine
was not immediately returned.
In August, Frank got 31 fellow House Democrats, two Republicans and an
independent to sign a letter to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urging
reconsideration of policies on homosexuals. Frank also complained about the
treatment of Egyptian homosexuals in a letter to Egyptian Ambassador Nabil
Fahmy and in comments on the House floor.
The dinner forum was scheduled for Jan. 30.
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