Sunday, February 12, 2006

UAE Sentences 26 Gays To 5 Years In Prison

(Abu Dhabi) Twenty-six men arrested at what police in
the United Arab Emirates called a "gay wedding" have
been sentenced each to five years in prison.

The men were charged with homosexuality, a crime under
Sharia law, although police acknowledged that non of
the men were engaged in a sexual act when police
raided the event.

Press reports from the capital say that the men did
not deny being gay, although some of the accused
reportedly identify as transgendered.

Lawyers familiar with the case say the sentences are
likely to be appealed.

Police, acting on a tip, raided a hotel in Ghantout, a
desert region on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway last
November, and found what they descried as a dozen men
dressed as female brides and a dozen others in male
Arab dress. (story)

The case attracted worldwide attention when an
Interior Ministry employee told reporters that the
accused could be forced by the government to receive
male hormone shots.

Esam Azouri told reporters at the time that a Sharia
court could impose male hormone treatments "to direct
the men away from homosexual behavior", five years in
jail and a lashing.

In handing down its sentence Friday the court did not
mention either hormone injections or lashings.

In 2005 UAE police made mass arrests at another event,
also described by authorities as a gay wedding in the
conservative emirate of Sharjah and at the Khor Fakkan
beach resort in Fujairah emirate.

Two dozen men arrested in Sharjah were given symbolic
lashings and then released from jail.