Reports out of Yemen say two militants from an Al-Qaeda linked group have shot dead a man in the southern Lahj province of the country, on the basis of his perceived sexuality.

It’s claimed 20-year-old Hashem al-Asmi was gunned down late on Monday in the provincial capital of Huj.

The attackers who “accused the man of being gay… belong to Ansar al-Shariah,” a police source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Ansar al-Sharia is the local branch of Al-Qaeda in Yemen where the network, although weakened, is still active mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

The gunmen reportedly fled on a motorbike after killing the victim.

Same-sex sexual activity remains illegal in Yemen with punishments ranging from flogging to death.

The country was ranked in 2012 by Amnesty International as one of the eight worst offenders for capital punishment in the world.

In June, Alaa Jarban, a leading student activist during the Arab Spring in Yemen, came out as gay on his blog.

The 21-year-old told the BBC from Canada: “I will never regret doing it” – despite receiving several death threats.