Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Egypt jails 21 men for homosexuality

Gay.com U.K.

An Egyptian court has jailed 21 men for practicing homosexuality after their original convictions were quashed on presidential orders. The men were arrested in May 2001 at a Cairo nightclub known for being popular with gay men. A special security court in November 2001 found them guilty under the country's morality laws.

President Hosni Mubarak (news - web sites) had ordered a retrial after the original sentences handed down to the men led to heavy criticism by global human rights activists. The men have now been sentenced to three years imprisonment each -- longer than their original sentences. However, they now have a right to appeal, which had previously been denied to them.

Another 29 men were acquitted. A representative of the US-based group Human Rights Watch, Scott Long, told Reuters news agency the sentences were "appalling" and "based on flimsy evidence."

Human rights organizations had put pressure on Egypt to review the original sentences, heavily criticizing the government and arguing that the men were on trial for their sexual orientation and for exercising freedom of speech.


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