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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 13:19 GMT
Egypt rapped on 'gay persecution'
By Heba Saleh
BBC correspondent in Cairo

Suspected gay men hide their faces as they appear for trial in Cairo
The report says Egypt routinely persecutes gay men
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.

'Degrading' medical tests

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.

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