The men were sentenced to two years in jail.

Eight men in Mauritania have been imprisoned for two years for apparently ‘imitating women’ at a birthday party. A woman who was also present at the party was given a one-year suspended sentence, while two further men were acquitted.

Last week, ten men were arrested for allegedly attending a gay wedding in the country, although a police commissioner, Mohamed Ould Nejib, later confirmed they were only attending a gay colleague’s birthday party.

The police commissioner justified his arrest by saying the men had been ‘imitating women’ at the event, and the men faced charges of “acts contrary to morality, committing acts forbidden by Allah, and circulating a ceremony of debauchery.”

Police reports say that all of the men confessed that they were homosexuals, in police interviews with no legal representation, but all of the men refuted that allegation at their trial.

However, eight men were convicted, with crimes being listed as “indecency” and “inciting debauchery” while a woman was given a one-year sentence for participating in inciting debauchery.

After reviewing footage of the event, the Human Rights Watch said that there was “no behaviour anyone could object to as illegal as reasonably defined.”

Graeme Reid, the group’s LGBT rights director, added: “The authorities appear to have imprisoned the eight defendants on the basis that singing and dancing at a birthday party is a crime in Mauritania.

“Mauritania can’t shy away from its obligations to protect basic rights of all its citizens without discrimination.”

He urged the country to release the men.

Mauritania one of eleven countries in the world that still has the death penalty for homosexuality. Its law states: “Any adult Muslim man who commits an indecent act or an act against nature with an individual of his sex will face the penalty of death by public stoning.”

However, there have been no known executions for homosexuality in the country.