Friday, August 23, 2002

Two lesbians arrested for ‘unnatural’ sex

Beirut, Lebanon - From the Daily Star

Two lesbians were arrested Thursday for engaging in “unnatural” sexual practices, under orders from Mount Lebanon’s Public Prosecution Office.

According to judicial sources, the women, who were caught in flagrante delicto, confessed to having relations for several years and said they wished to be united in matrimony. The sources said the two also sought to have a test-tube baby together, and affirmed to Mount Lebanon assistant public prosecutor Shawki Hajjar that they would join each other once released from jail.

Hajjar ordered that each woman be held in custody in a separate cell on charges of having unnatural sexual relations. Article 534 of the penal code identifies having sexual relations “contradicting the laws of nature” as a crime carrying a penalty of up to one year in prison.

The sources said the women’s relationship was exposed after police stormed one of their homes to recover money and jewelry allegedly stolen from the mother of one of the women. The mother had filed a complaint against her daughter, accusing her of stealing the valuables.
Both women were also charged with theft, which under Article 636 carries a penalty of between two months and three years in prison.

UN Investigation Condemns Egypt Over Gay Prosecutions

(New York) An investigation by a United Nations agency set up to monitor the way member states observe human rights has concluded that Egypt persecutes people because of their alleged sexual orientation, despite governmental assertions that homosexuality is not a crime.

Fifty men are being tried for a second time on on charges of "debauchery". The appear next in court on September 7.

The men were arrested last year in a gay club on a Nile Riverboat.

At the original trial 23 of the defendants were found guilty. In May the government, in the midst of international pressure, ordered a retrial, of all 50.

Two others, accused of being the "ringleaders" were excluded from the retrial and are serving hard labour sentences, having been convicted of "contempt of religion.

While awaiting a court appearance at the first trial the men are alleged to have been subjected to torture with cattle prods.

The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says: "The detention of the above-mentioned persons prosecuted in the grounds that, by their sexual orientation, they incited 'social dissension' constitutes arbitrary deprivation o liberty."

The group's report calls on Egypt to redress the situation and amend its legislation.

The decision also represents a ground-breaking move by the Working Group in addressing issues of sexual orientation.

"The decision refutes a key claim of the Egyptian government-- that consensual sexual conduct between men is not criminalized in Egyptian law," said Scott Long, Program Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is composed of five independent experts, that report to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Drawn from academics and human rights advocates in Algeria, France, Hungary, and Paraguay they are not part of their countries delegations, and are therefore free to represent their own expert opinions and not necessarily the official views of their countries.