Thirteen Egyptian men have been arrested in Cairo for homosexuality and turned over to the prosecutor, a security official said Tuesday. The 13 suspects were arrested in a rented apartment while "practicing sex," the official said on condition of anonymity. They were arrested within the last week, though the exact day is uncertain. The suspects are now in jail pending an investigation. The prosecutor is expected to make a decision Saturday either extending their detention or charging them with debauchery and homosexuality, the official said.
Wafd newspaper, an opposition mouthpiece, reported Monday that the arrested men included university students and hotel employees. The apartment belonged to the owner of a travel agency. The newspaper said the detainees did not deny that they are gay. Though not explicitly referred to in the Egyptian penal code, a wide range of laws covering obscenity, prostitution, and debauchery are applied to homosexuals. Islam, the religion of 90% of Egyptians, prohibits homosexuality.
In the last two years dozens of gay men have been detained and convicted. In the largest case, in November 2001, state security arrested 52 men in attendance at a party on a floating restaurant on the Nile River. The country's emergency court sentenced 23 of the defendants to two years in prison, and the two suspected leaders were sentenced to three and five years in prison. The others were acquitted. Appeals from the emergency court, which was created in response to 1981 laws protecting against threats to national security, are limited.