The new session of Parliament in the Gulf state of Bahrain began this week with calls for a crackdown on gays.

Al Menbar MP Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed wants the government to begin a number of initiatives designed to rid the country of gay people.

“We have homosexual rates on the rise, with such people working in flower shops, massage parlours or barber’s salons,” he said.

“Sluts walk around residential neighbourhoods untouched.”

In April Parliament demanded that the Interior Ministry stop granting any residence permits to foreign homosexuals.

Bahrain is known as one of the more tolerant Muslim nations in the Middle East, and has recently undergone a period of political liberalisation.

However, homosexuality remains a crime, and the government has periodically deported expatriates because of their sexual orientation.

Bahrain only held its first elections in 2002, and since then politicians have mainly addressed themselves to “moral” issues such as banning female mannequins from shop windows and tackling the widespread problem of “sorcery.”

The bicameral parliament is dominated by Shia and Sunni Islamist parties.

Homosexuality has been considered illegal in Bahrain since 1956 when, as part of the British Empire, it was given the Indian Penal Code.

Homosexuals can be given up to 10 years in prison though this is rarely put into practice.

In 2002 the government deported 2,000 allegedly gay Filipino workers for homosexual activity and prostitution.