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16 Session of UPR, April - May 2013. Statement at the UPR Side Event on the status of minorities in Bangladesh

in BANGLADESH, 02/05/2013

Statement from our member organization Boys of Bangladesh at the UPR Side Event titled: "The Status of Minorities in Bangladesh"

Geneva, 29 April 2013

Good afternoon everybody,

I would like to begin thanking the Honorable Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni for her presentation of the national report and congratulate her for the successful second cycle of UPR.

As you have seen during the session, the foreign minister in reply to USA’s concern on LGBT population said "On LGBT rights... on LGBT, we concur with NRHC that the laws of the land... However, we recognize the need for protecting all vulnerable groups of our population, given their constitutional equal rights and freedoms. Moreover, we do not condone any discrimination or violence against any human being on any pretext." I, on behalf of the LGBT community of Bangladesh, would like to thank honorable foreign minister for her reply and indeed, it is a great assurance to know that the government does not endorse discrimination and violence against any human being, whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The government rejected the recommendations in 2009, so we would see this reply as a development.

However, there are a number of issues that we think need to be addressed. As you have seen in the stakeholders' reports submitted for the UPR, the sexual and gender minority of the country continues to face discrimination and violence. Because of the strong stigma and taboo surrounding homosexuality, the LGBT population faces bullying, harassment and violence in schools, in work places, and more importantly from family. Thus they are being devoid of fundamental and basic human rights. Such denial of human rights pushes them into a shadow existence, reinforcing stigma and public contempt, making them vulnerable to discrimination and violence.

Despite receiving and disbursing funds for MSM and Hijra through National AIDS STD Programme, the government denies the existence of sexual and gender minority. As such the vulnerable population gets no support from the law enforcers, who are sometimes perpetrators of even more violence and discrimination. Furthermore, the existence of Section 377 looms as a grave threat to the LGBT population. I would like to mention here that Section 377, enacted in 1860 is a remains of British Colonial legacy and cannot be considered as a native law of land. We continue to urge the government to consider reading down or repealing section 377 and ensure that no individual is persecuted based on his or her sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Constitution of Bangladesh ensures human rights of all individuals. Bangladesh is also signatory to ICCPR, ICESCR, CEDAW and other covenants that ensure and protects the rights of sexual and gender minority. Moreover, we heartily welcome government’s initiative to draft an anti-discriminatory law ensuring and protecting the minorities from discrimination. We call upon the government to ensure inclusion of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the anti-discrimination law.

We would also like to request the government to sponsor a study into the human rights violation of the sexual and gender minority. Such a study is crucial in documenting and understanding the violence faced by the LGBT community. If the need be, we would like to offer our all out support to the government for carrying out such a study.

LGBT rights are no special rights but the very basic ones that everyone human being is entitled to. We would like to see the government take a stronger stance to protect those basic rights.

Thank you to GHRD and World Barua Organization for organizing the side event and thank you all for attending the event.

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