Bangladesh security forces on Friday (19 May) arrested 29 men who they say were participating in "homosexual activities". Gay sex is a criminal offence in the country, carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Police reportedly found condoms, 45 contraband Yaba tablets and 250g marijuana during the raid at a community centre in the capital of Dhaka's Keraniganj area.
"Homosexuals from 20 districts had gathered there. They usually get together once every two months," Commanding Officer Jahangir Hossain Matubbar of Rapid Action Battalion told the media.
"These men have been coming here from parts of the country for the last two months to spend the nights. We raided the community centre early Friday, based on complaints by locals.
"They've told us they took part in homosexual activities. We have found drugs, condoms and lubricants with them. Most of them are students," Matubbar said.
He also said that the arrested men will face drug charges, BD News reported. Recently, a Shariah court in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province punished two men with 85 lashings from a cane for being caught having gay sex.
Gay rights activitists across the world have been voicing concerns about a rise in incidents of violence and legal persecution of gay people.
Xulhaz Mannan, editor of Bangladesh's only gay magazine, Roopbaan, was the first to become a victim of hate crime against the Bangladeshi gay community. He was hacked to death at his Dhaka home along with his friend Khandaker Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy in 2016 in an attack claimed by militant group Ansar al-Islam.