Gay raid evidence criticized by defence
CAIRO — Defence lawyers for 26 men arrested in a televised raid by police looking for gays at an Egyptian bathhouse criticized the prosecution’s case Sunday, saying it is based on a faulty investigation and only one police officer’s testimony.
The raid was part of an ongoing crackdown on gays in Egypt, described by activists as the worst in more than a decade. While consensual gay and lesbian relationships are not specifically outlawed in Egypt, there is a societal taboo against same-sex couples.
A private TV station’s crew filmed the men’s arrest, saying it tipped off police to a bathhouse “hosting men sex orgies.” The televised raid outraged activists.
One lawyer representing 14 of the men, Islam Khalifa, told the court Sunday that the defendants suffered “psychological duress” from the publicized arrests, which defamed and endangered both them and their families in conservative Egypt. He said having the television crew there violated the men’s right to privacy and Egypt’s constitution.
Of the 26 men, 21 have undergone medical examinations to see if they had anal sex. Three of the men had trauma that required further examination, defence lawyer Tarek al-Awadi said.
The men face charges including debauchery and performing indecent public acts.
The trial will resume today.