Bangladeshi police stormed a community center outside Dhaka early Friday and arrested 27 men – mostly students between the ages of 18 and 20 – on suspicion of being gay, officials told BenarNews Friday.
Maj. Monjur Morshed, a camp commander of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), said members of his team raided the Chhayaneer Community Center in Keraniganj, outside the nation’s capital, early Friday.
“We arrested 27 people on charges of homosexuality,” he said, adding that a 55-year-old man believed to be the center’s supervisor was detained for questioning.
Morshed said the raiding team seized banned drugs and other contraband items, such as cannabis, “yaba” (methamphetamine) tablets and sexual stimulants from the suspects.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which has a legal code that describes “unnatural offenses” as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” Defendants could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty of sodomy.
Among the men arrested during the raid on Friday was a college sophomore at Rajshahi University in northwestern Bangladesh. He asked not to be identified.
“We were eating food after finishing the dance when the RAB members came and arrested us,” he said, explaining the raid took place at what is locally known as a Dance Jockey party attended by students from across the country.
Jahangir Matabbar, commanding officer of RAB-10, said the suspects would face charges of possessing illegal drugs and narcotics, potentially facing lighter sentences, instead of the British-era sodomy law, which is rarely enforced.
It is unusual for Bangladesh authorities to conduct multiple arrests against members of the gay and lesbian community, according to the officer-in-charge of a police station in Dhaka who requested anonymity.
“We overlook their activities,” he said, referring to gays and lesbians. “They are not violent; they do not harm anyone. They maintain a close circle among themselves.”
Full story: BenarNews
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