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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 18:39 GMT
US condemns UAE gay men arrests
Abu Dhabi skyline
A number of homosexuals have been arrested in the UAE recently
The US has condemned the arrests of 26 gay men during a raid on a party at a hotel in the United Arab Emirates earlier this month.

Washington also warned the UAE that any attempt to administer hormone or psychological treatment would break international law.

Police launched on Tuesday disciplinary proceedings against an officer who published photos taken during the raid, but did not respond to the criticism.

Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE.

Police arrested 22 UAE men, one Indian, and three Arabs from neighbouring states at a hotel in Ghantut in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

The authorities said 12 of the men had been dressed in women's clothes and make-up in preparation for a gay wedding.

Hormone therapy

A police spokesman said the foreigners were likely to be deported, while the Emirati men could be given hormone therapy if they consent.

The BBC's Gulf correspondent, Julia Wheeler, says there is a suggestion that agreeing to such treatment could be used as a bargaining tool for a reduction in an individual's sentence.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said his government condemned both the arrests and government-ordered hormone and psychological treatment.

"We call on the government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately stop any ordered hormone and psychological treatment and to comply with the standards of international law," he said.

In the UAE there have been a number of cases of arrests of homosexuals in recent years, and a nightclub in Dubai was closed down for allowing an openly gay night to be held on its premises, our correspondent says.

One religious scholar has now called on parents to be vigilant of what he called "deviant" behaviour in their children.

Policeman disciplined

Images of the suspects taken by a policeman on his mobile phone appeared in local newspapers shortly after the arrests.

Lt Col Najm Abdullah al-Sayar said the police had launched disciplinary proceedings against the policeman.

"[The officer] photographed the young men with his mobile phone while they were being arrested and distributed the pictures," he said.

"He has infringed on the privacy of the people involved in the case and this is something that goes against the proper conduct of the police force. He is under investigation and may ultimately be expelled from the force."

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