Last edited: December 17, 2004

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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