Maldives police arrest four men and target dozens more over leaked gay sex videos

Maldives police have arrested four men and are targeting 34 more after a series of gay sex videos were published online.

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The Maldives police authority have arrested 38 gay men. (Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Police arrested a Bangladeshi sex worker on 12 July, who they claim filmed his encounters with men with intentions to blackmail them, according to Human Rights Watch.

Police commissioner Mohamed Hameed said that 38 men have been identified from the tapes, and on 28 July three were arrested.

Among them was a police officer and the brother of former president of Maldives, and current speaker of the house, Mohammed Nasheed.

Hameed has vowed to prosecute all 38 men. He said police have seized 18 passports and informed their workplaces.

In the Maldives, engaging in same-sex relations is a crime punishable by up to eight years in prison and, under Sharia law, 100 lashes.

Human Rights Watch called the arrests “politically motivated”, coming as Maldives government is facing intense criticism from “extremist Islamist groups”.

The government had been facing pressure from opposition supporters and Islamist groups for arresting 20 people involved in a violent anti-yoga riot while taking no action against the men allegedly in the leaked videos.

Officials detained 20 people, including two religious leaders and a former member of parliament, for their alleged involvement in an attack on an International Yoga Day event on 21 July.

Opponents called the event heretical, and on 25 July the Islamist Adhaalath party, a partner in the governing coalition, declared yoga forbidden.

The Maldives criminalise homosexuality. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

 

Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch, said: “The Maldives authorities should immediately drop the unjust and apparently politically motivated investigations, and instead abide by international standards on rights protections.

“The government should repeal laws criminalising consensual same-sex relations, which discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens, migrants and tourists, and are a recipe for abuse.”

The Maldives adopted a new Penal Code in 2014 which strengthened anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

According to Human Dignity Trust, while there are reports of LGBTQ+ people being arrested in the Maldives “it is not clear how many people have been prosecuted”.

In 2015, two men were arrested at their private home on the island of Dhaandhoo after police received a complaint alleging homosexual activity, as reported by 76crimes.

 

 

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