German leaders call for end to Egypt gay trial
SUMMARY: As prosecutors argued their case against 52 suspected « immoral » men Wednesday in Egypt, German parliamentarians called for an end to the trial and the immediate release of the detained men.
As prosecutors argued their case against 52 suspected « immoral » men Wednesday in Egypt, German parliamentarians called for an end to the trial and the immediate release of the detained men, according to Reuters.
A cross-party group of 30 German leaders has sent a letter to the Egyptian ambassador urging a halt to the trial, which began in July.
The letter, initiated by Green Party politician Volker Beck, also asked Egyptian authorities to investigate reports that the detained men have been tortured.
In Egypt, prosecutor Ashraf Helal reportedly told the court Wednesday, « Egypt has not and will not be a den for the corruption of manhood, and homosexual groups will not establish themselves here. »
The 52 defendants, arrested in May on a floating disco on the Nile River called the « Queen Boat, » face charges of « practicing sexual immorality » — a euphemism for homosexuality, which is considered taboo but not illegal in Egypt.
Prosecutors also accused the group of using the Internet to promote homosexuality. If convicted, the accused face a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a minimum fine of 300 Egyptian pounds ($70).
International activists and human rights groups have denounced the trial, which has received extensive media coverage. The defendants, who reportedly appeared in court in a large black cage, are being tried under an emergency law designed to counter Muslim violence. Established in 1981, the measure denies the men the right of appeal.
« This perversion of justice must stop, » said Surina Khan, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). « We call on the Egyptian government to repeal the two-decade old emergency legislation permitting trials with no appeal. »
In other trial news, 365Gay.com reports that a diplomat from the Canadian embassy will join representatives from the United States, Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark to monitor the trial.