Gay party men may be given hormone treatment

Filed on November 27, 2005

DUBAI — More than two dozen gay men — arrested at what police called a mass homosexual wedding — could face government-ordered hormone treatments, five years in jail and a lashing, authorities said yesterday.

The Interior Ministry said police raided a hotel chalet earlier this month and arrested 26 men as they celebrated the mass wedding ceremony — one of a string of recent group arrests of homosexuals in the emirates.

The men are likely to be tried on charges related to adultery and prostitution, said Interior Ministry spokesman Issam Azouri.

“Lately people have been talking about (homosexuality), but it has been here for a long time,” said Nadia Buhannad, a Dubai psychologist. “It becomes shocking only when it is your own son.”

Police acting on a tip-off raided a hotel in Ghantout, a desert region on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway, and found a dozen men dressed as female brides and a dozen others in male Arab dress, apparently preparing for a ceremony that would join them as husbands and wives, Azouri said. “It was a real party with balloons and champagne,” he said.

The 26 men arrested include those from the Emirates as well as an Indian disc jockey and three men from neighbouring Arab states. One of the arrested was to perform the wedding ceremony. Azouri said some of the group told police they worked as prostitutes. Others had been arrested before.

Last year, police made mass arrests at an apparent gay wedding in Sharjah and at the Khor Fakkan beach resort in Fujairah, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the Press.

Two dozen men arrested in Sharjah were lashed and then released from jail, said prominent Emirati lawyer Abdul Hamid Al Kumaiti.

“There are so many others like these guys,” Al Kumaiti said. “The police and rulers need to do more than just lash them and let them go.”

Azouri described the arrests in Ghantout as a “delicate” matter made public for the first time — more than a week after the event.

The arrested men have been questioned by police and were undergoing psychological evaluations yesterday. Azouri said the Interior Ministry’s department of social support would try to direct the men away from homosexual behaviour, including treatment with male hormones.

“Because they’ve put society at risk they will be given the necessary treatment, from male hormone injections to psychological therapies,” he said. “It wasn’t just a homosexual act. Now we’re dealing with a kind of marriage. There was a ritual involved.”

Foreigners arrested will be deported after serving any sentences imposed in court, he said.

Azouri said government psychologists were grappling with the possible causes behind an apparent increase in homosexual behaviour in this country. The booming economy has lured hundreds of thousands of Western residents and millions of tourists. Azouri said authorities want to be seen to be taking action at a time when complaints of gay behaviour were emerging from the country’s schools and myriad shopping malls.

If some of the men are determined to be deficient in male hormones, they could be ordered to undergo hormone treatment, Azouri said.

Azouri suggested that other countries with laws based on religion, including Christianity and Judaism, also ban gay behaviour and marriage.

“It’s not about freedom of opinion, it’s about respecting religion which forbids this type of behaviour,” he said.

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