"A second trial will double the injustices of the first one," stated
Scott Long, Program Director at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights
Commission. "Bringing people to trial because of their suspected homosexuality
was wrong the first time around, and remains wrong today."
"Retrying people who have already been acquitted violates basic fairness,
and basic protections in international law," concluded Mr. Long.
The hearing started at 10:30 am at the Qasr-al-Nil Misdemeanors Court in Cairo,
and lasted only 15 minutes. The trial was presided by Judge Abdel Karim, who was
criticized by attorneys for showing bias in the first trial, which he had presided
as well. Judge Abdel Karim withdrew voluntarily from the case.
The case will be referred to another judge within the same circuit court. The
name of the new judge and the date of the next session will be announced on 16
There was no warrant for rearresting the defendants; they remain free for now.
The "Cairo 52"
were first arrested on or around the night of May 10/11, 2001. That night, police
raided the Queen Boat discotheque in Cairo, believed to be a gay men's gathering
place; other police pickups followed in the next days. The 52 were tortured in
detention, and jailed continuously until their trial. (For more information on
procedural irregularities and abuses surrounding the trial, see IGLHRC's Fact
Sheet, "Egyptian Justice on Trial: The Case of the Cairo 52," at http://www.iglhrc.org/world/africa/Egypt2001Oct.html.)
All 52 pleaded innocent. The verdicts were handed down on November 14, 2001,
at a hearing attended by a representative of IGLHRC, among others. Twenty-one
defendants were convicted of the "habitual practice of debauchery" under
Article 9(c) of Law 10/1961 (on the Combat of Prostitution). One defendant was
convicted of "contempt for religion" under Article 98f of the Penal
Code. Another defendant, accused of being the "ringleader," was convicted
of both charges and received the heaviest sentence, five years of hard labor.
In late May, the State Security Office for the Ratification of Verdicts--an
arm of the Egyptian presidency which is the only possible review for decisions
of Emergency State Security Courts--cancelled the court decisions in the 50 cases
involving the "habitual practice of debauchery." The grounds were that
this crime did not merit trial before the repressive special courts. The convictions
of the two defendants for "contempt of religion" were upheld. All but
those two now face a second trial.
For additional background information and an updated action alert, see http://www.iglhrc.org/world/africa/Egypt2002Jun_2.html
The mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
(IGLHRC) is to secure the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and
communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation
or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status. A US-based non-profit,
non-governmental organization (NGO), IGLHRC effects this mission through advocacy,
documentation, coalition building, public education, and technical assistance.