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Bangladesh Arrests Gay Couples and Threatens Supporters

Bangladesh Arrests Gay Couples and Threatens Supporters

Two women from the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka have been arrested for their relationship, a move that demonstrates how the nation’s administration is resisting calls for equality.

Reports say that the couple,  Lucky and Mishti, fell in love while working in a factory in the capital in Dhaka. The local media states that the couple have been living together for at least eight months. Some reports suggest they are “married,” though as Bangladesh criminalizes homosexuality and does not recognize same-sex marriage, this appears to have been a symbolic Hindu wedding and not one with any legal weight.

The couple were recently detained at their rental home after police were “tipped off” as to the couple’s relationship. Reports say that at the time of their arrest, the two were made to submit to “sex tests,” at which time they were deemed to be female — this is because Lucky had apparently presented with a masculine* appearance.

Homosexuality is illegal under the nation’s penal code. Section 377 demands that “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life [or hard labor] for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to [a] fine.”

However, the section invoked in the above case is a broader offense with the couple being tried under Section 29o, which concerns itself with “offences affecting the public health, safety, convenience, decency and morals” and demands that “Whoever commits a public nuisance in any case not otherwise punishable by this code, shall be punished with a fine which may extend to two hundred taka.”

This follows a similar case in June of this year where a young lesbian couple, also from Dhaka, were detained and are now threatened with life in prison.

As the Huffington Post notes, Bangladesh is among a handful of nations on the list of U.S. allies who at least in terms of statutes criminalize their LGBT population in much more overt ways than, say, Russia, which of course has been in the press for its anti-gay propaganda law.

Moreover, Bangladesh’s administration recently rejected calls from the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality, saying that to do so would conflict with “socio-cultural values of the country.” Bangladesh is, per its Constitution, a secular state but the encroachment of the predominant Islamic faith has been marked. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, attitudes to homosexuality in Bangladesh are predominantly negative.

A recent example of this comes in the form of a vocal protest from Bangladeshi Islamic groups against Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus over comments he made in 2012 against Uganda’s worsening gay rights situation.

Hundreds of Imams in Bangladesh are planning a rally against the anti-poverty campaigner, while organizer Maolana Moniruzzaman Rabbani told the AFP on Monday that “Yunus must apologize for supporting homosexuality or he must be prosecuted for standing against the Quran and Islam.”

Yunus, also hounded by a government tax probe that is thought to be connected not to Yunus’ business affairs but his political affiliations with the government’s opposition, is no longer living in Bangladesh and his current fixed residence is unknown.

What is perhaps most troubling about Bangladesh’s anti-LGBT stance is that its administration is actively enforcing criminal penalties against same-sex couples, resisting calls to change that and actively pursuing those who show LGBT rights advocacy. This creates a dangerous climate of oppression and intolerance to free speech that should worry not just the LGBT population, but all citizens.

 

*Reports refer to the fact that Lucky identifies as the “husband” of Mishti. Reports also discuss her masculine appearance. It is unclear whether this has been introduced as a bias in local media reports, for example searching for traditional gender roles, whether it is a simple recitation of facts because we are aware that other same-sex couples have attempted to dodge prejudice by presenting as a straight couple, or whether Lucky actually presents as male because that is the gender identity Lucky feels aligned with. As such, the wording used in this post referring to the couple as “women” and “same-sex” refer to how the couple have been recognized by the Bangladeshi authorities but may not necessarily reflect Lucky’s gender identity. Should more information become available, this will be amended.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock.

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54 comments

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11:06AM PDT on Oct 10, 2013

The world is sounding more & more like "V for Vendetta". Such a shame.

11:51PM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

As I said in another post, the conservatives of this world have created such a paranoia about the LGBT community that it is disgusting. Respected and justice for all people. That is the only way.

10:09PM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

Stop persecuting the LGBT communities!

7:10PM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

Thanks.

7:46AM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

Sad and sick, makes me angry as f**k!!!

2:52AM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

Disgraceful...

5:21PM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

thanks..disturbing

1:18PM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

To Mark V. - I love your concept and would support it wholeheartedly.

But what do we do in order for the "no-aid-getting" countries and/or the "civilised" first world countries to stop their human rights violations?

Like incarcerating people without due legal process? Like spying on its own and other people? Like bombarding sovereign countries for no reason other than wanting their resources and/or land and aquifers?

Like still having laws in place in many states in the US that gay people can be fired. Like having laws in place that if you don't have the right religion you don't get citizenship. Like having special roads exclusively for those who have the right religion. All these are human rights violatioins too and not just neglectable ones. Do you have any "gripping" suggestion?

I hope you sign the petition I posted about Greek, member of the EU and Christian, rounding up "unwanted" people. Thanks a lot!

1:01PM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

Sorry for upsetting all the "phobes" but this doesn't concern an Islamic and/or third world country but a Christian EU country.

I URGE everybody to go to http://act.watchdog.net/petitions/3322?n=38778790.Ba4pjZ, sign the petition and distribute it widely.

From the petition: "First migrants and recent immigrants were rounded up from Greece's streets and forced into internment camps. Then they threw the drug users in. Next came the sex workers, forcibly HIV tested, publicly humiliated, and imprisoned. Now they're coming for transgender men and women and the list of "undesirables" just keeps longer.

Operation Zeus is a cleansing campaign targeting and imprisoning the most vulnerable members of Greek society, accompanied by spikes in racism, gender hate and homophobia.

There are now at least 5,000 people languishing in these hellholes simply for existing and this month, while warning trans* men and women to "return to normal" or else, the Greek government announced that camp capacity is about to double."

If Russia wants to restrict LGBT's the whole world is up in arms - we go at Turkey, Iran et al. ... where is the world if worse happens within the EU?! Did someone mumble "double standards"?

For additional info check out http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/06/05/and-then-they-came-for-the-trans-people/

7:56AM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

Sad, yes, time to cut them off!

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