Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Cairo should free gay Lebanese

From the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon

A Lebanese group that advocates human rights urged the Egyptian government on Tuesday to free Wissam Abyad, a Lebanese citizen arrested earlier this year because of his sexual orientation.

Speaking on behalf of Hurriyat Khassa (Personal Liberties), lawyer Nizar Saghieh told The Daily Star that Abyad was sentenced to 15 months on charges of “practicing and encouraging debauchery.”

Amnesty International issued a report earlier this year calling on Egypt to “release immediately and unconditionally anyone imprisoned solely for their actual or perceived sexual orientation.”

It said that in January, Abyad went to meet a contact he had made on a website for homosexuals. The person he met in Cairo is believed to have been a security officer or a police informant. Abyad was later detained, and the electronic conversations they had over the internet in private were used against him.

The statement also said that gays, or those perceived to be gays, faced heightened risk of torture in police stations and prisons in Egypt. “Many people date through the internet. As long as they are not harming others, why should we arrest them?” Saghieh asked. “The imprisonment of Wissam makes questioning justice inevitable.”

Saghieh said that people should not be judged on the basis of their private lives and called on Egypt to “end Abyad’s misery” and the Lebanese government to intervene.


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