Egypt: Pressure on Egypt Mounts as Trial of 52 Men on Homosexual Charges Opens August 15th

IGLHRC Calls for Their Immediate and Unconditional Release

For Immediate Release: August 14, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO - The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) issued an urgent call to the Egyptian government, calling for the immediate release of 52 men detained because of their alleged homosexuality. International pressure mounts on Egypt as the men's trial is due to start August 15.

The 52 men have been in detention since their arrest May 11, 2001. They are being charged with "obscene behavior" and "contempt of religion." The trial set for August 15 will take place in front of a special Emergency State Security Court.

"We have been monitoring this case since its beginning in May," stated Scott Long, Program Director at IGLHRC. "The Egyptian government hasn't shifted its stance, and human rights defenders in Egypt are in danger. International attention is now more critical than ever since, under Egypt's emergency laws, the sentences of this court cannot be appealed."

Reports from the prison indicate that the men were subjected to beatings and to forensic examinations in order to ascertain whether they had engaged in anal intercourse. Meanwhile, outside the prison walls, the tightly State-controlled media has engaged in a campaign of vilification against the imprisoned men, referring to them as "Satanists" and perverts.

"This perversion of justice must stop. The government of Egypt must release the men immediately and unconditionally," affirmed Surina Khan, IGLHRC’s Executive Director. "We call on the Egyptian government to repeal the two-decade old emergency legislation permitting trials with no appeal."

As the men go to trial, international pressure on Egypt grows. Following IGLHRC's initial action alert on May 16th, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention sent an urgent appeal to the Egyptian government on May 17th. On July 3rd Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement with IGLHRC condemning the arrests. On August 3rd 35 members of Congress signed on a letter drafted by U.S. Representatives Barney Frank and Tom Lantos to Egypt's President Hosni Mobarak, expressing "strong disapproval" over the arrests.

On August 15th, the day the trial opens, Al-Fatiha - an international organization of Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning - is organizing an International Day of Solidarity and Mourning. Cities where demonstrations and rallies are planned include: Atlanta, Berlin , Canberra, Geneva, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Vancouver.

Additional Links:

Al-Fatiha's Day of Solidarity and Mourning and endorsing groups