Authorities in Bangladesh have arrested 27 men on suspicion of being gay, the New York Times reports.
The men—mostly students aged between 20 and 30—came from across the country to attend a gathering just outside the capital, Dhaka.
An elite police unit raided the Keraniganj community centre following complaints from neighbours who reported that “suspicious, illegal activities” were taking place.
Commander Jahangir Hossain Matubbar, said the men were found in possession of illegal drugs and condoms and will be charged for drug offences rather than ‘homosexuality’ because they had not yet engaged in sex.
“Yesterday when we arrested them, they did not complete the homosexuality act,” Mr Matubbar said. “They were preparing for that.”
The unit also arrested the owner of the community centre where it’s believed the gatherings were taking place every month.
“We were very suspicious about them,” said Mr Matubbar. “For a long time they have been gathering there. People informed us and we rushed there to find why they had been gathering there."
LGBT+ rights are non-existent in the conservative country where same-sex sexual activity is illegal—punishable by life imprisonment.
While this colonial-era law is not enforced, it serves as a justification for police to target the LGBT+ community in the country.