EIRUT: Lebanese NGOs Wednesday called for the immediate release of 27 men who were detained on charges of being gay after police received a tipoff that a group of men were at a Turkish-style hammam in a Beirut neighborhood.

On Aug. 9, a unit with the judicial police’s Moral Protection Bureau raided the Agha hammam after a detainee told police at the Hbeish police station in Hamra that gay men sought “sexual encounters with other men” there, the NGOs said in a joint statement.

Police arrested the owner of the hammam, the employees and several clients. All clients remain in custody at the detention center, the statement said, quoting a colonel at the police station.