A Huthi-run court in Yemen has sentenced 13 people to public execution on homosexuality charges, a judicial source said Tuesday, as human rights groups decried a rise in abuses by the Iran-backed rebels.

The sentences were handed down in Ibb, a province controlled by the Huthis whose attacks on Red Sea shipping since November have prompted retaliatory strikes by the United States and Britain.

Three others were jailed on similar charges, according to the judicial source, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.

Another 35 people have been detained by Huthis in Ibb province on homosexuality charges, the source said.

Videos shared with AFP, which could not be independently verified, showed a judge in a court reading out the death sentences on Sunday.

It was not immediately clear when the executions were due be carried out. The sentences are open to appeal.

Death sentences are not always carried out by the Huthis, who control Yemen's most populated areas and have been engaged in a long-running war with a Saudi-led coalition.

A 2022 report by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said the Huthis have sentenced 350 people to death since seizing the capital in 2014, and have executed 11 of them.

NGOs say rights abuses have increased since the Huthis started their harassment of Red Sea shipping, avowedly in protest at the Israel-Hamas war.

"The Huthis are ramping up their abuses at home while the world is busy watching their attacks in the Red Sea," said Niku Jafarnia, a Yemen researcher from Human Rights Watch.

"If they really cared about the human rights they purport to be standing up for in Palestine, they wouldn't be flogging and stoning Yemenis to death," she told AFP.

In December, Yemeni human rights activist Fatima Saleh Al-Arwali was sentenced to death on charges of spying for the United Arab Emirates, a member of the military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 in support of government forces.

The Huthis, from Yemen's mountainous north, belong to the Zaidi minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The hardline force, founded with the aim of pushing for a theocracy, emerged in the 1990s, rising up over alleged neglect of their region.

It has been fighting a pro-government coalition led by powerful neighbour Saudi Arabia since 2015, a conflict that has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions on the brink of famine.