Bangladesh arrests 27 men on suspicion of being gay

Zahangir Hossain Matobbar said they recovered illegal drugs and condoms in their possession and plan to charge them with drug offenses and not homosexuality because they were detained before they engaged in sex.

Bangladesh made 27 arrests of suspected gay men, students between the ages of 20 and 30, at a community center in Keraniganj on Friday.

RAB-10s duty officer Abdur Rashid said they were arrested as homosexuality was prohibited under law in the Muslim-majority Bangladesh and they carried out the raids responding to complaints by residents in the neighbourhood.

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However, they were later transferred to the custody of the regular police where they were charged with drugs-related crimes.

The agency also arrested the owner of the community center where the suspects used to gather every two months and stay overnight for partying.

Meanwhile, two LGBT activists were hacked to death in 2016 by suspected Islamist militants in Dhaka. The 35-year-old, a USAID official, had founded the country's only LGBT magazine Roopbaan and was a leading campaigner in the local gay community.

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Gays and lesbians in Bangladesh frequently suffer discrimination and other rights abuses and many are forced to hide their sexual identity and live double lives for fear of reprisals.

Many prominent homosexual activists have since fled the country after several of them received death threats.

Homosexuality is illegal in Bangladesh, and the discriminatory law can reportedly result in a punishment of life in prison.

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