52-year-old Robert Pinter is fighting charges by the New York City police department that he solicited sex for money at a video shop in Manhattan. And he's not alone.

Over 50 gay or bisexual men have been arrested on prostitution charges in seven Manhattan porn shops since 2004, reports gay weekly Gay City News (www.gaycitynews.com). Arrests that have sparked outrage in the gay community because the profiles of the men arrested do not match what usually passes for a hustler in New York City.

Pinter was arrested at the Blue Door Video on First Avenue in the East Village on October 10, 2008. He says that while in the video store he was approached for sex by a handsome young Asian man. They agreed to have oral sex in a parked car. On the way to the car, the man, who was an undercover police officer, said, “Oh, I want to pay you $50 to suck your dick.” Pinter says he was interested in the blow job, not the money, and ignored the comment.

“This guy was half my age,” he said. “It was my lucky day. I also though, 'How unusual, in Manhattan, to have sex in a car.'”

Before the two arrived at the car, the police collared him.

Pinter pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a small fine, but became increasingly suspicious of the charge during the health classes he was prescribed to attend. There he met many other gay men with similar stories that did not seem to add up.

“Generally, these are people who are not working as prostitutes and even when they are confronted by the undercover they may be intending to have sex, but not take any money,” Linda Poust Lopez, an attorney who is advising five of the men, said.

The city has sued six of the video shops where gay men have been arrested on questionable prostitution charges. Video, Video, Video at 488 Eight Avenue at West 34th Street was sued by the city in 2007 after 21 men were arrested between 2004 and 2007.

After the city successfully closed the store, the building was sold for $12.3 million and is now being redeveloped by the Vornado Realty Trust Company.

Lawmakers have begun to express concern over the arrests.

“I think it's very disturbing that there has been this pattern of arrests,” openly gay New York state Senator Thomas K. Duane told the paper. “This is harassment. No matter how you look at this issue, the enforcement is completely, utterly inappropriate and out of control.”

Openly lesbian New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has also expressed concerns about the arrests, reports the Gay City News.

Members of the Coalition to Stop the Arrests, a group founded by Pinter, are planning a rally at the home of Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is scheduled to take place today at noon.

In a statement given to the paper, the police department said it took action after receiving numerous public complaints.

On the Net: Gay City News has reported extensively about the arrests www.gaycitynews.com