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This report was written and published by GayMiddleEast.com and shared with SDGLN.
MANAMA, Bahrain - On Feb. 3 there was a mass arrest of close to 200 people at a suspected gay party in Muharraq, Bahrain.
The arrest followed complaints by residents about noise levels. When the police arrived to the club they apparently reported they saw men dressed up and dancing as women.
Some local media described the venue as a "gay party," and even spoke of gay orgy in the party. However this incident did not get much attention. The authorities charged 52 of the participants with debauchery and prostitution, which carries a maximum sentence of up to five years. They also charged some of the defendants with organizing the party without a proper license as well as the consumption of alcohol and smoking illegal soft drugs.
The defendants were held in jail since Feb. 3.
The Bahraini Court on Thursday, March 3, sentenced 49 of the detainees in the "gay party case" to one to six months in prison. They found two of the defendants innocent and released them. 46-47 of the detainees are from Saudi Arabia. They all belong to the same clan and were accused of cross-dressing. Two detainees are from Qatar, two from Lebanon, and one is a Kuwaiti citizen.
Although some local Bahraini media simply reported the jail sentence, our sources have verified that those who were not charged with drinking alcohol (most of them) were allowed to walk away from jail back home on a mere 200 Bahraini Dinars Bail (about 530 US$). A few who had alcohol-related charges (up to four people) are still in custody.
This is indeed a positive development. It seems that the government did not use full force (according to Bahraini law, debauchery can be punished for up to 5 years in prison) and rather used this as a kind of warning to the men found guilty.
GME welcomes the men’s release, although it notes that the participants were acting in private and thus charges should not have, in any case, been brought against them, notwithstanding illegal selling alcohol and drugs. We also point out that the 49 men were hold for a month in jail.