Egypt: One Step toward Justice, Two Steps Back

More Convictions for Homosexual Conduct in Egypt as Jailed Teenager is Freed

For Immediate Release: December 19, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO -- Just one day before a Cairo court released from jail a teenager imprisoned for alleged homosexual conduct, two Egyptian university students were sentenced to one year in prison for allegedly advertising for homosexual contacts over the Internet.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human RIghts Commission (IGLHRC) is investigating the case. IGLHRC is gravely concerned that this case may represent renewed harassment of suspected homosexuals in Egypt.

"Arrests and abuses continue in Egypt," said Scott Long, IGLHRC's Program Director. "The pattern is the same: people suspected of homosexuality are picked up and accused of prostitution. Police use informers and the Internet to entrap victims. This carnival of injustice must stop."

The Egyptian State-controlled daily Al Ahram reported on December 19 that the students were convicted for setting up a website which allegedly offered gay sex for money. According to the article, a security agent posing as gay arranged a meeting where the two were arrested.

IGLHRC has not yet confirmed the exact charges in this new case. However, they appear to be the same ("habitual practice of debauchery" under Article 10 of the 1961 law on prostitution) as those levelled against the Cairo 52 who were tried before a State Security Court this year.

The two men were tried in the misdemeanor court in Boulak, a suburb of Cairo. It is the same court where four men were brought after their November 10 arrest on similar charges, including prostitution. Those earlier arrests were reported in the State-controlled press on November 15, the day after sentences were handed down in the Cairo 52 trial. The four men were accused of turning their apartment into a "den of perversion."

Mr. Long was in Cairo at the time attending the Cairo 52 hearing. He spoke to one of the 4 arrestees through the bars of a police wagon in Boulak. The prisoner told of being stripped, beaten, and tortured in detention. Both he and his lawyers denied the accusations of prostitution.

"In addition to these stories, we have other credible accounts of people being entrapped over the Internet," said Mr. Long. "These latest convictions are deeply suspect."

"So far in Egypt we have counted 23 men doing hard labor, one teenager released under uncertain probation terms, 4 men detained for weeks and not charged yet; now we are following the track of two students sentenced to a year in jail," added Mr. Long. "Is this the end of the tally? How many more lives are ruined and go unreported?"