Rights group slams arrest of 8 gays in Egypt
Man's HIV admission sparked the crackdown
Human Rights Watch criticized Egypt on Wednesday for eight arrests prompted by one man's statement that he was HIV-positive, and said the detentions embodied "both ignorance and injustice".
The U.S.-based rights group said the men, all arrested since October, were given HIV tests without their consent. Two were also subjected to forensic anal tests to look for evidence of homosexual conduct, which the group said amounted to torture.
Three men, whom Human Rights Watch said had reportedly tested HIV-positive, were being held in hospital handcuffed to their beds and "only unchained for an hour each day".
Human Rights Watch said the arrests began after police stopped two men having an altercation on a Cairo street in October 2007. One told police he was HIV-positive, prompting an investigation against both for homosexual conduct.
Police later arrested two additional men whose pictures or phone numbers were found on the first two detainees, as well as four others who took over the lease of an apartment where one of the previous detainees had lived, the group said.
Human Rights Watch said the first four men remained in detention pending a decision on whether to charge them with homosexual conduct. The other four were tried and convicted of habitual debauchery, which Human Rights Watch says is used to penalize homosexual contact, and sentenced to a year in jail.
"The government should end arbitrary arrests based on HIV status and take steps to end prejudice and misinformation about HIV/AIDS," the Human Rights Watch statement said.
According to a 2004 study, the majority of Egypt's health workers believe those with HIV should be removed from society, while most university students think "lewd" people or those with "neither values nor principles" are likeliest to get AIDS.
But Egypt has also made progress in combating the spread of HIV. Since 2004, testing for Egyptian nationals has been anonymous, and the Health Ministry has made HIV drugs available free of charge since 2005.
The government should end arbitrary arrests based on HIV status and take steps to end prejudice and misinformation about HIV/AIDS
Human Rights Watch