MIDDLE EAST EYE
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Today is the first hearing for the trial of at least 26 men alleged to be taking part in sexual activities at a bathhouse in central Cairo. Over the last two weeks, Egypt’s human rights activists have responded with furore at the sting operation and broadcasted arrest of these men.
The sting operation, organised by an investigative television programme called “The Hidden”, was aimed at uncovering the second largest source of spreading AIDS in Egypt (the first being the use of needles for drugs use), according to the show’s host Mona Iraqi. It was intended to coincide with the awareness raising World Aids Day on 1 December.
A statement released by 10 Middle Eastern and North African rights groups condemned the arrests as a “continuation of a vicious security campaign launched by the state, carried out by its morals police, against gay and transgender people”.
It was the largest mass arrest of individuals on the charge of practicing “debauchery” since the Queen Boat raid in 2001, when 52 men were detained from a floating disco on the Nile for their perceived sexuality.
While homosexuality is legal in Egypt, rights groups have documented a rise in the numbers of those arrested among the gay community, more than150 people over the last year, with many being detained from their homes. They are often charged with debauchery or insulting public morals.
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