Egypt: 23 Presumed Homosexuals Sentenced to Hard Labor

SUMMARY

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

The list of convictions runs as follows:

  • 1 man, deemed the "ring leader," was sentenced to 5 years of hard labor for "obscene behavior" and "contempt of religion."
  • 1 man was sentenced to 3 years of hard labor for "contempt of religion."
  • 20 men were sentenced to 2 years of hard labor for "obscene behavior."
  • 1 man was sentenced to 1 year of hard labor for "obscene behavior."
  • 29 men were acquitted. It is not clear when they will be released. Egyptian legal sources contend that according to Egyptian law, the acquittals can be appealed by the prosecutors after 30 days have elapsed from the date of sentencing.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has also received reports that arrests of presumed homosexuals continue.

CALL TO ACTION

Call on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately pardon the 23 men convicted to hard labor; ensure the immediate release of the 29 men acquitted and block any appeal of their acquittals; immediately release the teenager convicted to three years prison and three years probation in connection to this case; and order police to stop additional raids and arrests of presumed homosexuals.

Call on U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to ask Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to implement the steps above.

Working Assets' Act For Change allows you to send your note to U.S. Secretary Powell from their website at http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?itemid=12305

Sample letters and addresses, as well as background information, are provided below.

SAMPLE LETTER TO EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK

His Excellency, President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
'Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt
Fax: + 20 2 390 1998, 20 2 260-5417 , 20 2 355-5700, 20 2 795 3192 or 20 2 795 8016
TELEX 091 93794 wazra un
E-mail: webmaster@presidency.gov.eg

Your Excellency,

On the night of May 10/11, 2001, State Security police, accompanied by members of the vice squad, raided the Queen Boat discotheque in Cairo, Egypt. Some men were arrested there, others in random police pickups during the following days; all were presumed to be homosexuals. Irregularities in the arrests and handling of this case suggest that the Cairo 52 may have been framed.

There have been reports of torture and ill-treatment of at least some of these men while in detention. Others were subjected to anal examinations to "prove their homosexuality," in itself torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Names and pictures of the detained men have been published in the Egyptian press in order to embarrass and humiliate them.

All 52 men were tried by an Emergency State Security Court which does not meet Egypt's international obligations and violates international legal standards for fair trials. On November 14 the court delivered its sentences: 2 men were sentenced to three to five years of hard labor for "obscene behavior" and "contempt of religion," 21 men were sentenced to one to two years for "obscene behavior," and 29 men were acquitted.

In addition to the Cairo 52, a teenager was also charged with "obscene behavior" in the same case. He was tried in a juvenile court because of his age, and was sentenced on 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 the only one permitted to appeal.

We urge you to immediately pardon the 23 men convicted to hard labor; ensure the immediate release of the 29 men acquitted and direct the prosecution not to appeal their acquittals; immediately release the teenager convicted to three years prison and three years probation in connection to this case; and order police to stop additional raids and arrests of presumed homosexuals.

These trials are a perversion of justice and have been condemned by international human rights organizations and by the United Nations. Egypt's reputation is at stake. Please make a firm commitment against torture and for human rights.

Sincerely,


SAMPLE LETTER TO U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
United States
Fax: 202-261-8577
Email: Secretary@state.gov

Dear Secretary Powell,

On the night of May 10/11, 2001, State Security police, accompanied by members of the vice squad, raided the Queen Boat discotheque in Cairo, Egypt. Some men were arrested there, others in random police pickups during the following days; all were presumed to be homosexuals. Irregularities in the arrests and handling of this case suggest that the Cairo 52 may have been framed.

There have been reports of torture and ill-treatment of at least some of these men while in detention. Others were subjected to anal examinations to "prove their homosexuality," in itself torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Names and pictures of the detained men have been published in the Egyptian press in order to embarrass and humiliate them.

All 52 men were tried by an Emergency State Security Court which does not meet Egypt's international obligations and violates international legal standards for fair trials. On November 14 the court delivered its sentences: 2 men were sentenced to three to five years of hard labor for "obscene behavior" and "contempt of religion," 21 men were sentenced to one to two years for "obscene behavior," and 29 men were acquitted.

In addition to the Cairo 52, a teenager was also charged with "obscene behavior" in the same case. He was tried in a juvenile court because of his age, and was sentenced on 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 the only one permitted to appeal.

Secretary Powell, please call on President Mubarak to immediately pardon the 23 men convicted to hard labor; ensure the immediate release of the 29 men acquitted and direct the prosecution not to appeal their acquittals; immediately release the teenager convicted to three years prison and three years probation in connection to this case; and order police to stop additional raids and arrests of presumed homosexuals.

Egypt is the second largest recipient of US aid and an important ally of the United States.

Mr. Powell, please make a firm commitment against torture and for human rights and freedom.

Sincerely,

BACKGROUND

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 were 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 were charged, in addition, with "contempt for religion" under Article 98f of the Penal Code. The trial began on July 18. All 52 pleaded innocent and presented individual defenses. There have been 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.

There have been reports of torture and ill-treatment of at least some of the detainees. Others were subjected to anal examinations to "prove their homosexuality." Names and pictures of the detained men have been published in the Egyptian press in order to embarrass and humiliate them.

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