Egypt sends 26 men arrested in hammam raid to trial

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Twenty-six men suspected of having organized or taken part in homosexual orgies at a public bath in Egypt are to go on trial for "debauchery,” a judicial official said Wednesday.

He said the men were arrested on December 7 at a hammam in the Azbakeya district of central Cairo and are to go on trial Sunday.

Those arrested were all Egyptians and among them was the owner of the bathhouse and his employees, Azbakeya prosecution office head Mohammed Hetta said.

"The bathhouse owner is accused of turning the facility into a site of immoral and indecent conduct and group homosexuality," Hetta said.

A television presenter, Mona Iraqi, exposed the activities occurring at the hammam while researching a program on AIDS and prostitution in Egypt. In her report, she had a male affiliate enter the hammam with a hidden camera and microphone.

Egyptian law does not expressly ban homosexuality, but gay men have previously been arrested and charged with debauchery and “scorning religion” instead.

In November, a Cairo court sentenced eight men to three years in jail for "inciting debauchery and offending public morality" after video footage of an alleged gay marriage went viral on the Internet.

When first detained, they tested negative after they were put through widely discredited “anal exams” to “test” if they had engaged in homosexual activity.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has condemned prosecutions of homosexuals in Egypt.

"Over the years, Egyptian authorities have repeatedly arrested, tortured, and detained men suspected of consensual homosexual conduct," it said in September.

Egypt's biggest arrest of homosexuals was in May 2001, when 52 men were arrested from the Queen Boat nightclub on the Nile in central Cairo.

Twenty-three were sentenced to jail terms up to five years, in a case that sparked international criticism.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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