Libya 'gay partygoers not to be killed'

Photograph of the abducted men posted on Facebook

The Libyan militia that abducted 12 allegedly gay men at a party in Tripoli last week is planning to hand them over to the Ministry of Justice, the Libya Herald reports, allaying earlier fears that the men would be killed.

A vigilante group calling itself the Private Deterrent Force – part of the influential Nawasi Brigade – had posted a photograph of the abducted men on its Facebook page (since deleted) together with a note in Arabic which said:

"The Private Deterrent Force arrested 12 young men 'of the third sex' from various parts of Libya last night [Thursday]. They were in a gathering in a resthouse in the Ain Zara district [of Tripoli] practising the customs of sodomites ..."

The militia, which also goes around Tripoli seizing alcohol and drugs, now says it intervened after neighbours complained about the noise the men were making. The Libya Herald continues the story:

“Execution will never happen”, said a senior member of the Nawasi brigade today, who requested to remain anonymous. “We are handing them over to the Ministry of Justice” ...

“These guys are not straight, but that’s not the main reason we arrested them”, he continued. “The main thing was the big noise they were making to the neighbours, as well as the large amounts of alcohol and hashish we found”.

Asked why threats had been made on Facebook, the Nawasi leader put it down to poor command and control. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a [communications] office; we have about three guys mainly working from home and we can’t always control what’s posted. We are trying to upgrade but we haven’t received a proposal of how to do it”.

The original announcement by the Private Deterrent Force said nothing about noise and the men's sexual behaviour was the only reason given for their "arrest". 

The militia, which links with the interior ministry, may have been surprised by the outcry its action caused (on Twitter, Facebook and in some of the foreign media), or possibly the interior ministry told it to back off.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 28 November 2012.