The London-based human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, said Friday it was "gravely concerned about the ongoing detention" of 54 young Egyptians, described by the authorities as homosexuals.
The statement says the 54, who face accusations of "immoral behavior" and "contempt for religion," have been detained since their May 11 arrest.
On Thursday, the state security court extended their custody by 15 days for the third time, court sources told AFP.
"The majority, if not all, of these men are detained purely on the grounds of their alleged sexual orientation," according to a statement on Amnesty’s website.
"If people are detained solely on account of their sexual orientation, Amnesty International would consider them prisoners of conscience and call for their immediate and unconditional release," the statement added.
The organization said that it was also extremely concerned about allegations that the detainees were tortured or ill-treated during the first days of their detention.
“These serious allegations should be promptly investigated by the Egyptian authorities,” the statement said.
According to Amnesty, the vilification and persecution of people for their sexuality violate the most fundamental principles of international human rights law.
The right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes sexual orientation, is recognized in regional and international treaties, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a state party, it said - Albawaba.com
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