Egyptian court: Police will testify in gay sex trial

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 09 2002 11:00 PM ET

A Cairo court on Saturday heard the defense lawyers of 50 Egyptian men accused of having gay sex and agreed to their request to make the police officers who arrested them testify before the court, according to Agence France-Presse. Hassan al-Sayess, the presiding judge at the Abdine criminal court in central Cairo, said the three police officers will testify at the next hearing, set for October 12.

The group of men, most of them in their 20s, are not being held in custody. The defendants were arrested following a May 11, 2001, evening on the Queen Boat nightclub on the Nile River. The group underwent a first trial by the the state security court, which sentenced 23 of the men to prison last November--mostly for one to two years, on charges related to practicing homosexuality--and acquitted 29 others.

But President Hosni Mubarak ordered their retrial in May, saying the case did not fall under the jurisdiction of the state security court. However, he upheld jail terms against the two leading defendants, Sherif Farahat and Mahmud Ahmed Allam, of five and three years, respectively, after they were accused of "scorning religion." Farahat was also charged with "sexual practices contrary to Islam."

Homosexuality is not explicitly prohibited under Egyptian law, which is based on sharia, or Islamic, rulings, although numerous statutes condemn conduct deemed to be an affront to public morality.

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