Bangladesh made 27 arrests of suspected gay men, students between the ages of 20 and 30, at a community center in Keraniganj on Friday.
The arrests were made by the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite police force that found the men had illegal drugs and condoms, ABC News reported. Zahangir Hossain Matobbar said the police plan to charge the men with drug crimes since they were detained before any sex.
Agence France-Presse reported, however, that a different RAB spokesman, Mario Manzur, said the men were arrested because “they are homosexuals,” but wasn’t specific about exactly what charges would be pressed.
Gay sex is illegal in Bangladesh and punishable by life in prison, but the law is from the British colonial era and is rarely enforced, although homosexuals of both genders are frequently discriminated against there. Many gays live double lives to avoid being mistreated, Agence France-Presse reported.
Last year, two LGBT activists were killed in Dhaka by militants. Police reportedly often bully suspected homosexuals, and many have left the country after getting death threats.
The owner of the community center, where the men met every two months to party and stay overnight, also was arrested, ABC reported.
Nearly 70 Muslim-majority countries have laws against homosexuality, and in Indonesia, two men were recently sentenced to public lashings for gay sex under a local law modeled after sharia.
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