Monday, March 01, 2004

Egypt rapped on 'gay persecution'

From the BBC Online

Egypt has been criticised for its treatment of homosexuals by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
The group reports a campaign to repress Egyptian gay men, who, it says, are routinely persecuted, arrested and tortured by the authorities.

The report was released in conjunction with five local rights groups.

Many Egyptians see gays as sinners - a view that has often deterred local activists, who fear for their political image, from backing homosexual rights. The Human Rights Watch report cited the trial of 52 Egyptian homosexual men in 2001 as the most visible point in a continuing campaign against gays.

The group says Egyptian police uses wire taps and a growing web of informers to carry out raids against private homes and seize suspected homosexuals on the streets. It accuses Egyptian security agents of using internet chat-rooms and advertisements to entrap gay men, then arrest them.

Once in custody, the group says, gay men are subjected to torture and degrading medical examinations to prove they have engaged in homosexual relations. It says that in the last three years, hundreds of men have undergone this treatment.

The group has launched its report in Cairo in conjunction with five local human rights organisations. In the past, Egyptian activists have been reluctant to speak on the repression of gays because it is a sensitive cultural issue.

Saudi police raid 'homosexual' wedding

From Al Jazeera

Saudi investigators are questioning more than 50 people for allegedly attending a gay wedding in the holy Islamic city of Madina. Mostly expatriates, the suspects denied they were attending a gay marriage in the Aziziya district on Monday and said they took part in a ceremony to mark the wedding of a Chadian friend.

Gay marriages are illegal in Saudi Arabia and investigators say that that invitations to last Wednesday's ceremony indicated it was a gay function. Police also pointed to the suspicious behavior of guests, who fled the venue at the sight of police cars - some even leaving their vehicles behind.

Police raided a rest house where the ceremony was under way after a tip-off from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. One of the two Chadians involved told police that he was "rehearsing for his legal marriage" which was due to take place two days later. His Saudi sponsor confirmed the man’s story saying he had given him some money to meet the marriage expenses. But the incident sent shock waves through Saudi society when it was first reported on Friday by al-Jazira Arabic newspaper.