25 men arrested in Egyptian bath house raid

By : Wire Report
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CAIRO – Egyptian security forces raided a bath house and arrested 25 men suspected of being gay, dragging them naked out of the building in downtown Cairo, an official said Dec. 8.

The raid is part of an ongoing crackdown on gay men and comes after an Egyptian court last month convicted eight men on charges of “inciting debauchery” following their appearance in an alleged same-sex wedding party on a Nile boat, sentencing each to three years imprisonment.

Egyptian law does not explicitly prohibit consensual same-sex relations but prosecutes and imprisons gay men on charges such as “debauchery” and “shameless public acts.”

The raid on the bath house, or hammam, took place on Sunday in the city’s Ramses neighborhood, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media. He said the bath house owner, an unidentified 60-year-old man, was suspected of renting the place out specifically to gays.

Being gay is a social taboo in Egypt, a conservative, Muslim majority country with a sizable Christian minority. Same-sex marriage is unheard of and only in recent years have fiction and movies included gay characters.

The crackdown on gays, and also on atheists, goes hand in hand with a wider campaign against all forms of dissent, both by liberal and Islamist political groups.

In April, four men were convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison each for “debauchery” after allegedly holding parties that involved gay acts and where women’s clothing and makeup were found.

In 2001, Egypt made headlines around the world when 52 men were arrested in a police raid on a Nile boat restaurant and accused of taking part in a gay sex party. After a highly publicized trial in an emergency state security court, 23 of the men were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of one to five years for immoral behavior and contempt of religion.

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