Last edited: December 08, 2004

Amnesty Says Egypt Mistreats Homosexuals

Reuters, December 20, 2001

CAIRO—London-based rights group Amnesty International accused Egypt on Thursday of persecuting homosexuals and called on the Arab state to release anyone imprisoned on the basis of sexual orientation.

"Gays in Egypt suffer discrimination, persecution and violence simply for being who they are," it said in a report.

"Amnesty International calls on the Egyptian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally anyone imprisoned or detained solely for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity," the London-based group said.

An Egyptian security court sent 23 men to prison for between one and five years in November on charges including "practising sexual immorality," a local euphemism for homosexuality.

One of the men was also convicted of "forming a group that aims to exploit the Islamic religion to propagate extremist ideas" and "denigrating monotheistic faiths."

Another 29 men were acquitted.

The men were arrested after a raid on the floating Queen Boat nightclub, known locally as a popular gay venue. Some were arrested elsewhere on the same evening.

Amnesty said Egypt had maltreated the detainees in the first days of detention, and that they were later subjected to intrusive forensic examinations, which it said amounted to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

"Detainees reported that they were tortured, including by being beaten with a stick on the soles of the feet...during the first stages of their detention," Amnesty said.

Egyptian officials were unavailable for comment. Egypt has said in the past that it investigates reports of torture and prosecutes any perpetrators.

Egypt has dismissed criticism of the Queen Boat case. One government official has said the West should not impose its values on Egypt.

Homosexuality is regarded as a taboo in Egypt, but not expressly prohibited by law.

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