Indian police today confirmed that they have raided an underground gay club and arrested four men on charges of homosexuality.

Homosexuality is a criminal in the Commonwealth country and can result in prison terms of up to ten years.

Police officers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, raided premises in Lucknow, arresting four males and seizing more than a thousand telephone numbers of people connected to the gay club housed there.

“Four persons, all of them in their early thirties, who were members of the gay club have been arrested for perpetrating homosexual activities,” Ashutosh Pandey, a senior Lucknow district police officer said today.

Mr Pandey claimed: “Gay people were invited to assemble in a public park. They were asked to carry a white handkerchief in their hands and their code word was ‘white’.”

Police sources claim that the group, known as Talaash (search), was the internet based creation of Nihal Ahmed, a married civil servant. They claim that Mr Ahmed admitted that that the group has over 100,000 members from across India.

“These people haven’t been accused of having sex, just of running an organisation that puts other gay people in touch with one another. This isn’t even illegal in India, the law criminalises the act of gay sex, not being gay itself.” David Allison of gay human rights group OutRage! told PinkNews.co.uk.

“It is worrying if Indian police start doing what the London Metropolitan Police did in the 1950s and start building up a database of people suspected of being gay.” Mr Allison added.

Homosexual sex was criminalised during British colonial rule in 1861. However, under 50 people are believed to have been convicted, mainly because judges tend to be lenient.