Wednesday, November 30, 2005

UAE ministry denies reports of hormone treatments for 'gay wedding' suspects

Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Interior has categorically denied reports appearing in a section of the media that 26 individuals who were held at an alleged gay wedding have been subjected to hormonal or any other treatments. An official source at the ministry rejected the statement by the US State Department spokesman.

"They [the arrrested individuals] have not been treated with hormones or any other medicines," the spokesman said. "What has been reported in the local and international media is wholly inaccurate." The source said any punishment or prescription of medicines is not the concern of the ministry.

The judiciary is the sole competent authority that can act according to the laws and constitution of the country," he said. "Only the judiciary can issue appropriate rulings as per the UAE laws.
He added that the role of the ministry was to help the arrested individuals and its obligation ended there.

The source urged the media and other concerned parties to be accurate while disseminating news. Such information should be obtained through official channels, he said. He also called on the media to refrain from exaggerating issues and publishing news without proof.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

US condemns UAE gay men arrests

The US has condemned the arrests of 26 gay men during a raid on a party at a hotel in the United Arab Emirates earlier this month.

Washington also warned the UAE that any attempt to administer hormone or psychological treatment would break international law.

Police launched on Tuesday disciplinary proceedings against an officer who published photos taken during the raid, but did not respond to the criticism.

Police arrested 22 UAE men, one Indian, and three Arabs from neighbouring states at a hotel in Ghantut in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

The authorities said 12 of the men had been dressed in women's clothes and make-up in preparation for a gay wedding.

A police spokesman said the foreigners were likely to be deported, while the Emirati men could be given hormone therapy if they consent.

The BBC's Gulf correspondent, Julia Wheeler, says there is a suggestion that agreeing to such treatment could be used as a bargaining tool for a reduction in an individual's sentence.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said his government condemned both the arrests and government-ordered hormone and psychological treatment.

"We call on the government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately stop any ordered hormone and psychological treatment and to comply with the standards of international law," he said.

In the UAE there have been a number of cases of arrests of homosexuals in recent years, and a nightclub in Dubai was closed down for allowing an openly gay night to be held on its premises. One religious scholar has now called on parents to be vigilant of what he called "deviant" behaviour in their children.

Images of the suspects taken by a policeman on his mobile phone appeared in local newspapers shortly after the arrests. Lt Col Najm Abdullah al-Sayar said the police had launched disciplinary proceedings against the policeman.

"The officer photographed the young men with his mobile phone while they were being arrested and distributed the pictures," he said.

"He has infringed on the privacy of the people involved in the case and this is something that goes against the proper conduct of the police force. He is under investigation and may ultimately be expelled from the force."

Monday, November 28, 2005

26 men arrested at mass gay marriage in Dubai

More than two dozen gay Arab men face strict punishment after being arrested at what police in the United Arab Emirates described as a mass homosexual wedding.

They could be lashed, forced to undergo hormone treatments and jailed for five years, an Interior Ministry official said as he announced the arrests on Saturday.

Interior Ministry spokesman Issam Azouri said police detained 26 men during a raid earlier in the month as the wedding ceremony was about to begin in a hotel chalet in Dubai.

The country, which lies along the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Oman, has banned openly homosexual behaviour.

Azouri said the men would probably be tried under Muslim law on charges related to prostitution and adultery, the Associated Press reported.

There have been a series of similar group arrests of homosexuals over the past few years in the United Arab Emirates.

The Interior Ministry said the latest detentions stemmed from a tip-off to police.

The arrested men were mostly from the Emirates but one came from India and three others were from neighbouring Arab countries, Azouri said.