Egypt Sentences 23 of 52 Suspected Gays
Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network,
November 14, 2001
By Tom Musbach
SUMMARY: An Egyptian court issued a verdict in the "Cairo 52"
trial, acquitting 29 of the men and sentencing 23 to jail for suspected
An Egyptian court on Wednesday issued a long-awaited verdict in the trial
of the "Cairo 52," acquitting 29 of the men and sentencing 23 to
jail for practicing "sexual immorality," a euphemism for
The 52 men had been arrested in May while attending a party on a floating
nightclub on the Nile River, and the subsequent months of trial hearings
generated sensational local media coverage and outcries from international
human rights groups.
Homosexuality, while regarded as taboo, is not expressly prohibited by law
Sherif Farahat, 32, accused of being the leader of the group, received five
years, due to additional charges of "forming a group which aims to
exploit the Islamic religion to propagate extremist ideas" and
"denigrating monotheistic religions," according to Reuters.
Of the other 22 found guilty, one received the maximum three years for
"sexual immorality." Twenty received two years, and one was
sentenced to one year.
The sentences cannot be appealed, due to emergency laws enacted after the
assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. The jail sentences also involve hard
labor, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Scott Long, program director for IGLHRC, called on Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak to pardon the 23 men sentenced to jail. "The arrest and trial of
these men has been a perversion of justice from day one," he added.
"We are very chilled by the hard labor sentences," said Surina
Khan, IGLHRC’s executive director. "Having received numerous
testimonies of beatings and abuse of the Cairo 52 while in detention, we can
only imagine what awaits them now."
At Wednesday’s hearing, the accused stood in a large iron cage, and few
others were allowed in the courtroom. Family members, friends and journalists
crowded in a near-riot outside the chamber, according to news reports.
An Egyptian government official defended the proceedings in a statement to
Reuters: "We have to judge every society by its norms. If homosexuality
is accepted in other societies, that’s their business. … In this society,
homosexuality is a shameful act."
There has been no word on whether Amnesty International and gay groups Al
Fatiha and GayEgypt.com might call for a
tourist boycott of Egypt, as they had hinted in the event of a
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