Lawyers for several gay men in Burma say they will being legal proceedings against the police after the men were arrested earlier this month.

According to the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), the men, who were wearing women’s clothing, were rounded up having gathered near an historic moat, also a popular gay hotspot, in the centre of Mandalay, Burma’s second city.

“We have to do this because the police mistreated the detainees, which is beyond the limits of their responsibilities,” said Aung Myo Min, director of Equality Myanmar, a separate group that promotes LGBT rights.

Police officers allegedly beat the detainees and forced them to do frog jumps and act as though they were walking on a catwalk, before being put into cells for about four hours.

The criminal status of the detainees remains unclear, but all 12 were released on bail after they agreed to sign an agreement stating that they would not dress in female clothing and would stay away from the area where they were arrested, according to one of the detainees.

Police have denied any wrongdoing and maintain that the officers had handled their law enforcement obligations professionally.

Same-sex sexual activity remains illegal in Burma, although LGBT expression has become more visible in recent years.

For the first time last year several Pride events were held in cities across the country to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

Section 377 of the Penal Code states: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term for which shall not be less than 2 years, but may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine that shall not be less than four hundred rupees but may extend to one thousand rupees.”