Egypt Sentences Men for Gay Sex

CAIRO, Egypt?Egyptian men wept and screamed inside a crammed courtroom cage Wednesday as a judge sentenced 23 of them to jail terms of one to five years for gay sex in a trial denounced by human rights groups as persecution of homosexuals.

Another 29 men were acquitted, prompting cries of joy from relatives who had denied the charges and accused the Egyptian media during the four-month trial of sensationalism and destroying the young men’s reputations.

Only a few people were allowed into the courtroom to hear the verdicts, and outside, police wielding sticks drove back a crowd of about 200 relatives, lawyers, journalists and passers-by.

Crammed into a courtroom cage, the 52 defendants in white prison uniforms wept and screamed as the presiding judge read out the sentences. Most of them could not hear what sentence they received.