San Diego, Calif. – Human Rights Watch on Feb. 5 highlighted the cases of eight men incarcerated in Cairo, Egypt, following homosexuality-related arrests or convictions.
Two men were arrested last October while having an argument on the street, after one of them told police officers he was HIV-positive. They were handcuffed to a desk for four days in the office of the Morality Police, were later subjected to anal probes and forced HIV testing, reportedly tested positive, and remain in custody in a hospital handcuffed to beds 23 hours a day.
Two other men were arrested because their phone numbers or photographs were in the possession of the first two men. They also were force-tested for HIV and remain in custody pending possible filing of charges.
Four additional men were arrested in November after they secured a lease and moved into the apartment of one of the first four men. They were tortured in custody; deprived of food, drink and blankets; and force-tested for HIV. In January, the four were convicted of “habitual practice of debauchery” and sentenced to one year in prison. On Feb. 2, the convictions were upheld on appeal.
One of the men was told he is HIV-positive and is incarcerated in a hospital chained to a bed 23 hours a day.
“These cases show Egyptian police acting on the dangerous belief that HIV is not a condition to be treated but a crime to be punished,” said Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch's LGBT Rights Program. “HIV tests forcibly taken without consent, ill treatment in detention, trials driven by prejudice, and convictions without evidence all violate international law.”
HRW has urged authorities to drop all charges, stop chaining detainees to hospital beds, and make sure the eight men receive good medical care for any serious health conditions.