Two men have been publicly flogged in Saudi Arabia after being found guilty of sodomy and sentenced to 7,000 lashes.

The men, who have not been identified, received an unspecified number of lashes in the south-western city of Al-Bahah on Tuesday evening, according to a report from the Al-Okaz daily.

The men will remain in prison until the rest of their punishment can be completed.

In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is illegal under sharia, or Islamic Law.

The maximum sentence it carries is the death penalty and this is most commonly performed by public beheading.

Gay rights are not recognised in the kingdom and the publication of any material promoting them is banned for its “un-Islamic” themes.

With strict laws restricting unmarried opposite-sex couples, however, and public displays of affection accepted between men, some Westerners have suggested that sharia encourages homosexuality.

Last April, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced two Saudis, one Yemeni and a Jordanian to two years in jail and 2,000 lashes after a police raid on an alleged gay party.

Iran has been condemned for carrying out the death penalty on men found guilty of having gay sex.