According to some reports, up to twenty six men, arrested late last year at a so-called ‘gay-wedding’ have been sentenced to five years imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates – simply for being gay.

The government however says that only 12 men were jailed for confessing to “practising homosexuality”, while another 14 were acquitted. It also claims that the convicted men were sentenced to an additional year in prison for “obscenity”.

The twenty six men were arrested in November in the remote Ghantout desert region after police received a tip-off about a gathering of homosexuals at a hotel. The authorities raided the premises, claiming that half of the men were dressed as grooms and the other half were dressed as brides. It is still unclear if some of the participants identified as being transsexual.

The men were all arrested – even though the police admit that they were not engaged in any sexual activity at the time – and were charged with contravening Islamic Sharia law, which bans homosexuality.

At the time, government officials suggested that the men could be sentenced to receiving hormone treatment to make them more ‘male’, as well as lashings, along with a jail term.

According to reports, the convicted men, who apparently refused to deny being gay, are expected to appeal the conviction, which apparently did not include the hormone treatment or lashings.

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