LAST week 27 young gay men were arrested at a community centre in Bangladesh.

The Huffington Post has reported that while the men were allegedly arrested for drug possession, an officer stated they were targeted for being gay.

Activists say the arrests being allegedly drug-related serves a dual purpose of not causing an international incident by overtly persecuting gays, while also sending a message to the LGBTI community that they are being monitored by the government.

The arrests come after Bangladeshi police arrested four gay activists during Bengali New Year celebrations in April. A leading gay rights activist was killed in the same month.

Gay sex remains illegal in Bangladesh, a majority Muslim country. The LGBTI community reportedly feels threatened but cannot ask for help from police due to the law.

Gay rights groups have become more active in the country in recent years, with the publication of Roopbaan, the first LGBTI magazine in Bangladesh, and the first LGBTI rally in 2014.

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