Egypt jails 23 for gay sex party on Nile boat

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A court in Cairo jailed 23 men for terms of up to five years for taking part in a gay sex party on a floating nightclub on the Nile in May.

A court in Cairo jailed 23 men for terms of up to five years for taking part in a gay sex party on a floating nightclub on the Nile in May.

The judgment will be welcomed by militant Islamic groups in Egypt, but Amnesty International accused Egypt of persecuting people for their sexual preferences, and said the Emergency State Security Court was not independent.

The longest sentence went to Sherif Farahat, 32, for "falsely interpreting the Koran," contempt for religion, exploiting Islam to "propagate extremist ideas", denigrating monotheistic religions, and debauchery.

Of the other 22 found guilty, one man received the maximum three years for "sexual immorality". Twenty more received two years, and another received one year. Another 29 men in the case were acquitted.

The accused entered the courtroom wearing white prison uniforms and hiding their faces behind masks and handkerchiefs. They were held throughout the four-month trial in a large iron cage, as is customary in Egypt.

Outside the court,baton-wielding police tried to maintain order as family members and friends sobbed and wailed. "This is a dirty government!" a woman screamed as a police van ferried her husband away. "You dogs! He's innocent," shouted Maher, an Egyptian gay activist, before collapsing in tears.

The case has split Egypt, a deeply traditional society where homosexuality, though not specifically illegal, is widely regarded as taboo. The conservative Islamic movement the Muslim Brotherhood, though officially banned, commands widespread support.

The government of Hosni Mubarak has sought to minimise tensions between the secular, Western-leaning parts of society and its influential Islamic elements by adopting conservative positions on social issues. A prosecutor told the court in September: "Egypt will not be used for the defamation of manhood and will not be a hub for gay communities."

Comments