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Saturday, 9 February, 2002, 20:00 GMT
Fate of Egyptian gays worries Chirac

The French President, Jacques Chirac, has expressed sadness and concern about the imprisonment of homosexuals in Egypt.

A statement issued by Mr Chirac's office said that during talks in Paris, Mr Chirac told his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, that, without wishing to interfere in Egyptian affairs, he hoped the 23 homosexual men who were convicted last November for sexual immorality could be released.

They, and 29 others who were acquitted, had been arrested in a police raid on a floating nightclub on the Nile, which was reputed to be a meeting place for homosexuals.

Correspondents say that, even though it is not illegal, homosexuality is seen as shameful in largely conservative Egypt.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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