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Saturday, 27 July, 2002, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Gay retrial adjourned in Egypt
Defendants on their way to court
The men avoid appearing in public whenever possible

The trial of 50 men in Cairo accused of depraved behaviour for their alleged homosexual leanings has been adjourned by the judge to give the defence more time to prepare its case.

Twenty-one of the men were originally convicted of the offence last November.

But the state security court verdict was overturned by President Hosni Mubarak, who ordered that the case be heard again in an ordinary criminal court.

The trial of the men continues in both senses of the word.

Homosexuality crackdown

Judge Hassan al-Sayess read out the names of the accused at a court in central Cairo.

Only their lawyers were present - the men avoid appearing in public whenever possible because of verbal attacks against them in the Egyptian media.

Hosni Mubarak
President Mubarak ordered the retrial
One defence lawyer then complained about the retrying of those men who had already been acquitted, and the judge then adjourned the case until September.

Homosexuality was until recently quietly tolerated in Egypt, but the authorities began a major crackdown in May last year with a night raid on a disco where some of the men were arrested.

Homosexuality itself is not a crime - the men are charged with offending public morals.

Two other men, also convicted last November, are already serving three and five year prison terms, and their cases are not subject to a re-trial.

Different explanations have been put forward to explain the crackdown. One is the growing public visibility of Egypt's gay community because of the internet.

Another is that this is a move to please conservative Muslim clerics, to distract them from the fact that up to 15,000 Islamic activists remain in prison, in many cases without formal charges having been brought against them.

See also:

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