Egyptian appeals court grudginly acquits 11 men in gay trial
July 21, 2003
CAIRO - An appeals court acquitted 11 men of charges of debauchery
linked to homosexual activity, one of their lawyers said Sunday.
As his three-member panel issued its ruling Saturday, lawyer
Helmi Al-Rawi said Judge Mo'azer El-Marsafy told the defendants:
"We are so disgusted with you, we can't even look at you. What you
did is a major sin, but unfortunately the case has procedural
errors and the court had to acquit all of you."
The 11 had been convicted in April and sentenced to up to three
years in prison in one of several such cases that have drawn
accusations of anti-gay bias in Egypt from international human
rights groups. The defendants appealed in May.
Homosexuality is not explicitly referred to in the Egyptian
penal code, but a wide range of laws covering obscenity,
prostitution and debauchery are applied to homosexuals in this
Egyptian police monitor restaurants considered gay hangouts as
well as Web sites catering to homosexuals. Human rights groups and
Western diplomats and lawmakers have condemned Egypt for pursuing
and trying homosexuals.
In the latest case, the main defendant was arrested in February
after his telephone had been bugged for more than a month by
officials acting on a tip. The other arrests followed. - Sapa-AP
Security courts power curbed in Egypt