Egypt: New Prison Sentences for Alleged Homosexuals

"Damanhour Five" Convicted Today

For Immediate Release: March 11, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO - An Egyptian court sentenced today five men accused of consensual homosexual conduct, the "Damanhour Five," to three years' imprisonment to be followed by three years' probation.

At the trial, held in Damanhour, the capital of Al-Beheira province, the judge deliberated for only fifteen minutes before handing down the verdicts. All five men had confessed to homosexual acts under what they later claimed was torture. The prosecutor alleged that they had been found "used"--passive partners in homosexual sex--by a medical examination.

"This trial -- if it can even be called that -- is simply another farce," stated Scott Long, Program Director at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). "The defendants have been subjected to brutal torture through beatings and electroshock in the two months since their detention. We call for their immediate release."

"Egypt is an important ally of the United States, and yet the United States remains silent on this issue," added Sydney Levy, IGLHRC's Communications Director. "President Bush must remember that against torture there should be no immunity, and there can be no neutrality."

President Bush met with President Mubarak on March 4 in Washington, the same day the Damanhour trial opened. US officials apparently never raised the recent pattern of persecution in Egypt.

The Damanhour defendants willl face an appeals hearing on April 13. On March 18, another appeals hearing will be held in the case of the "Boulak 4," who received similar sentences under the same law in a trial held in Cairo suburb on February 3.

The Damanhour trial comes after a year in which brutal arrests, allegations of torture, and hard labor sentences and sensationalized trials of suspected homosexuals have become a regular occurrence in Egypt.

The Damanhour defendants have been in jail since their arrest on January 15, 2002. They been charged with "habitual practice of debauchery" [al-fujur] under Article 9(c) of Law 10/1961--a provision commonly used in Egypt to penalize consensual homosexual behavior. The same law was used to sentence 23 men to one to five years of hard labor on November 14 of last year, in the notorious Queen Boat case.

For IGLHRC's updated action alert, see http://www.iglhrc.org/world/africa/Egypt2002Mar_2.html

For background information on the US support of Egypt and for detailed information on all known cases of persecution of homosexuals, see http://www.iglhrc.org/news/press/pr_020212.html

For additional background information, see http://www.iglhrc.org/world/africa/#Egypt

The mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is to secure the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status. A US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), IGLHRC effects this mission through advocacy, documentation, coalition building, public education, and technical assistance.

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