Egypt: 1 to 5 Years of Hard Labor for 23 Presumed Homosexuals in Cairo

IGLHRC Calls on President Mubarak to Intervene

For Immediate Release: November 14, 2001

CAIRO - The Emergency State Security Court in Cairo delivered its sentences November 14 in the case of the 52 men detained since May because of their presumed homosexuality. 23 men were convicted to between one and five years of hard labor; 29 were acquitted. These sentences cannot be appealed.

"The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) calls on President Mubarak to step in and immediately pardon the 23 men convicted to hard labor," said Scott Long, IGLHRC's Program Director, currently monitoring the trial in Cairo. "The arrest and trial of these men has been a perversion of justice from day one."

"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."

"We are concerned for the acquitted as well," stated Mr. Long. "We call for their immediate release, and ask President Mubarak to issue a clear directive to the prosecution not to appeal their acquittals."

Egyptian legal sources contend that according to Egyptian law, the acquittals can be appealed by the prosecutors after 30 days from sentencing have elapsed.

"Unfortunately the abuse does not stop with this case," added Mr. Long. "There is evidence that additional arrests take place on a regular basis against presumed homosexuals. These arrests must stop."

The list of convictions runs as follows:

  • 1 man, deemed the "ring leader," was convicted to 5 years of hard labor for "obscene behavior" and "contempt of religion."
  • 1 man was convicted to 3 years of hard labor for "contempt of religion."
  • 20 men were convicted to 2 years of hard labor for "obscene behavior."
  • 1 man was convicted to 1 year of hard labor for "obscene behavior."
  • 29 men were acquitted. It is not clear when they will be released.

According to eye witnesses at the court, most lawyers, international observers, and family members of the detained men were banned from the hearing. At the hearing itself the judge reading of the sentences was described as "whispering," his voice so low that the detained men could not even fully hear their own sentences.

The Cairo 52 were arrested on the night of May 10, 2001 and in the following days. They have been in detention since. Fifty defendants are all charged with "obscene behavior" under a law against prostitution (Article 9c of Law No. 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution). Two more men are charged, in addition, with "contempt for religion" under Article 98f of the Penal Code. The trial began on July 18. All 52 have pleaded innocent and have presented individual defenses. There are enough irregularities in the arrests and handling of this case to suggest that the Cairo 52 may have been framed.

In addition, a teenager, tried in a juvenile court because of his age, was sentenced September 18 to the maximum penalty allowed by law: three years in prison, to be followed by three years of probation. Because of his age, he is allowed to appeal.

These trials have been condemned by international human rights organizations, members of US Congress and the United Nations.

For more information please see "Egyptian Justice on Trial: The Case of the Cairo 52" at http://www.iglhrc.org/world/africa/Egypt2001Oct.html.

IGLHRC is a US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to protect and advance the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.

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