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May 26, 2017

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Bangladesh police arrest 27 youths over homosexuality

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladeshi police arrested 27 young men early Friday in a rare crackdown on homosexuality in the conservative Muslim-majority country, where gay sex is a crime.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite security force, said it had raided a community centre south of the capital Dhaka where the men had gathered.

They found drugs and condoms on the premises, said Major Manzur of the RAB, who asked to be identified only by his rank and given name.

"We've arrested 27 people for homosexuality. They are homosexuals. They held a get-together there," he told AFP.

He said police would press charges against the 27 men, though he did not say under what law.

Bangladesh criminalises gay sex under a law dating back to the British colonial era that has never been repealed but is rarely enforced.

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.

Last year two prominent LGBT activists including an editor of the country's only magazine for gay people were hacked to death by Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda.

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