Police raid, arrests at gay spa provoke fears of new persecution


It was an ordinary Sunday afternoon at the Avalon Man Spa and Bar. The gay club in Valencia, two hours west of the Venezuelan capital, was filled with clients, receptionist Jesús Araujo said: “Sunday is our busiest day.” Then the police arrived. With neither advance warning nor a search warrant, the officers from Venezuela’s National Police entered the massage rooms, the locker rooms and the saunas, witnesses said, shouting “Get out!” and “Hands up!” Within moments of their arrival on July 23, the police had rounded up 33 men, including Araujo and the club’s owner, on charges of indecent outrage, noise pollution and criminal association.

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