State Dept. Condemns UAE Arrests of Gay Couples at Mock Wedding

Washington has condemned the United Arab Emirates' arrest of more than two dozen gays at what police called a mass homosexual wedding and warned that any attempt to treat detainees with male hormones would violate international law.

Police raided a hotel chalet near Abu Dhabi earlier this month and arrested 22 Emirati men and three Arabs from neighboring countries, the Interior Ministry said Saturday. Police reported finding a dozen men dressed as brides and a dozen others in male Arab dress, apparently preparing for a mock marriage ceremony.

The authorities said the detainees, some of whom had been arrested before, are likely to be tried on charges related to adultery and prostitution. They also said the men would be tested for male-hormone levels and could possibly face government-ordered hormone injections.

In criticizing the arrests, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement Monday: "We call on the government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately stop any ordered hormone and psychological treatment and to comply with the standards of international law."

An Interior Ministry official close to the investigation told The Associated Press on Tuesday that hormones would be given only with the suspects' consent — either as a sentence-reduction option if found guilty in court or voluntarily before trial.

Outward homosexual behavior is banned in the United Arab Emirates and most other Arab countries.

The arrested men were undergoing psychological evaluation last week. The Interior Ministry's department of social support has said it would try to direct the men away from homosexual behavior, including recommending male hormone treatment if the men are found to be deficient.

Also Tuesday, an Abu Dhabi police officer confessed to releasing pictures of the detainees improperly, said the Interior Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give press statements.

Local newspapers have published grainy photos of the suspects, showing some of the "brides" wearing sleeveless dresses and what appeared to be wigs and kneeling at the feet of the "grooms."

The officer would probably stand trial and could lose his job, the official said.