Egypt: Acquittal of eleven men is not enough

The human rights organisation has however urged the Egyptian government to release immediately and unconditionally the many other men who remain imprisoned solely for their sexual orientation.

Stephen Bowen, Campaigns Director at Amnesty International UK, said:

'While we're pleased that these men have been acquitted, it is disturbing that they were released on a legal technicality and only after being subjected to a degrading and homophobic lecture from the presiding judge.

'There was no justification for the arrests in the first place, and the charge of 'habitual debauchery' is a flimsy attempt to disguise the fact that the authorities are targeting men for their sexual orientation, despite the fact that homosexuality is not a crime in Egypt.'

There have been a series of high-profile prosecutions in Egypt where the police have targeted gay men. The 11 men acquitted last weekend were originally arrested in sting operations earlier this year and convicted by Giza criminal court in April. One of the men was arrested after his telephone was bugged and another after a man he arranged to meet through an internet dating site turned out to be a police informant.

Stephen Bowen continued:

'The targeting of gay men in Egypt is part of a wider crackdown on human rights activists, religious minority groups, political opponents, journalists and many others as the Egyptian government attempts to suppress civil society.

'The continuing efforts by people all over the world will help not only to secure their freedom but to end the unfair trials and unjust laws that threaten all Egyptians.'

Amnesty International UK at Pride

Amnesty International activists are celebrating Pride all over the UK this summer from London to Belfast, Manchester, Brighton and Cardiff. In London this weekend (26 July) human rights campaigners will be marching with Pride veterans, the 'Mardi Marvels', who will have more than 40 spectacular dancers in the most colourful costumes on show.

Everyone is invited to join Amnesty International in showing solidarity with people all over the world who are persecuted for their sexuality – more than 70 countries have laws which prohibit same sex relations, a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Meet at Cleopatra's Needle on the Embankment, central London, at 11am or find us in the 21st century section of the Parade.

It will be possible to send appeals from our stall at Pride in Hyde Park or via our website, www.amnesty.org.uk.

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