Twelve Jailed Over 'Gay Wedding'
A UNITED Arab Emirates (UAE) court has jailed 12 men who were arrested after being discovered preparing for a gay wedding, but has acquitted another 14 defendants, an official said today. "Eleven men have confessed to practising homosexuality. They were sentenced to five years in prison (for homosexuality) and one year for obscenity," the official said. "Another man was sentenced to one year in prison for obscenity, but was acquitted of homosexuality charges...while 14 others have been released after being found not guilty," he said. The 26 defendants, including UAE citizens, an Indian and three nationals of neighbouring Arab countries, were arrested in November when police raided a hotel in a desert resort town. Local newspaper Emirates Today had reported that the Abu Dhabi court had sentenced all 26 men to five years in jail. It said the men were busted in a hotel "dressed in women's clothes and make-up in preparation of gay wedding". The official said the verdict was not final and could be appealed. The US State Department had condemned the arrests and called on its close Gulf ally to stop reported plans for a forced hormone treatment on the suspects, which an interior ministry official then denied.Homosexuality is a serious offence in the Muslim UAE and neighbouring conservative Gulf countries,(Even though they all practice homosexuality) where offenders could face flogging along with imprisonment, while foreigners could also face expulsion. Last April, a court in neighbouring Saudi Arabia sentenced two Saudis, one Yemeni and a Jordanian to two years in jail and 2000 lashes after a police raid on an alleged gay party. Across the Gulf in non-Arab Iran, repeated sodomy carries the death penalty