Just Another Bangladesh ( JAB ) has interviewed Mr. Xulhaz Mamun, one of well known Human Rights Activities, an employee of the USA embassy, and founder of “Rupban” the only LGBTQ lifestyle magazine in Bangladesh to gather ground-level scenario of sexual freedom in Bangladesh. Xullhaz Mamun along with BoB ( Boys of Bangladesh ) is working with the sexual minorities of Bangladesh and providing assistance to the victims.
Freedom of expression
It is well known to the world that Bangladesh does not have the most impressive results in case of freedom of speech or expression. The biggest hurdle of the LGBTQ community in Bangladesh is section 57 of the ICT act ( Information and Communication Technology act 2006 ), under this section sensitive actions like the indecent photo or video, provocative speeches, along with blasphemy information on websites or any electronic platform is considered as an offense. The criminal act is punishable with a fine worth of 10 million Taka ( $1,45,000 USD ) and a maximum penalty of 13 years and 9 months.
Due to these circumstances, anyone uploading an article or photo on a website, blog, or publishing a magazine therefore could be in violation of the ICT Act 2006. It is also permissible for a third party to act on his or her behalf to file a case against an activist in violation of this law, it means anyone can file a case against any blog or a website if they feel that any of its content has an even remote chance of upsetting religious sentiments. Unfortunately, this power is abused very often and most of the time it is for suppressing freedom of expression, due to this several writers are being harassed, journalists and activists,s and media personals are often facing judicial notices.
This ICT Act 2006 violates the basic rights of a human to express himself or herself, including that these laws particularly prohibits the freedom of LGBTQ in Bangladesh, as it holds an important forum for individuals to talk about their issues involving sexual identity and preference.
Due to this reason, the LGBTQ community in Bangladesh struggled to express a very thin line between sexual orientation on the internet and potentially committing an offensive crime, Thus, Bangladesh is in dire need of legislative change.
LGBTQ community in Bangladesh
It is constant pressure for the LGBTQ community in Bangladesh, coming out in open as gay or transgender use to shameful but now it has become life-threatening and most of the time even families won’t even own the child. Mr. Xulhas illustrated that he and Mahbub are facing many death threats and some of the time, he feels the threats were real. Not in the only workspace, the eyes follow around and the shame and hate at the same time can be felt over the environment. In recent years, few murders erupt regarding homophobia and the issues of the Bangladeshi LGBTQ community continue to face oppression.
It is certain that Bangladeshi society is growing intolerance day by day against sexual exploration. In some cases, subtle activism can find unwanted attention. Law enforcement authorities are failing to protect the right of expression of all citizens, to some extent, we have seen police were sure about the threat but they tend to not take any action due to increase tension among religious fundamentalists and the deep state. Like the case of the killing of progressive public figures.
However, within this oppressive environment Mr.Xulhas Mamun, BoB and Just another Bangladeshi has approached the society in creative strategies, spreading awareness, educating the general public, and trying to make a safe space for the LGBTQ to flourish among the society. In 2015 BoB introduced the first comic strip with a lesbian character naming her “Dhee” trying her to establish her to encourage a conversation in the country about gender preference, Tanvir Alim has also set up an online fundraiser campaign for this comic spot.
Bangladeshi Government on Sexual Minority?
The Bangladesh government has brazenly opposed any reforms towards promoting the rights of sexual minorities. At the United Nations review procedure, the Bangladesh government accepted rejected the call to protect the LGBTI community, stating “sexual orientation is not an issue in Bangladesh”. Meanwhile, Bangladesh retains Section 377 of its penal code that criminalizes same-sex conduct, or “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”, the same remnant of British colonial law that India struck down last year.
The Government of Bangladesh has opposed any reforms in case of LGBTQ matter, the government has not responded to the United Nations LGBTI protection legislation, even though stating sexual orientation is a social norm in Bangladesh but Bangladesh Jatiya Shangshod retains Section 377 of the Penal code criminalizing same-sex marriage or affair “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”. The human rights commission has documented physical and social abuse of the LGBTQ community by the police.
The LGBTQ Community of Bangladesh is starving for justice and improvement of their situation. GHRD has confronted the Bangladeshi Government over this issue to ensure basic flights of sexual minorities.