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Bangladesh’s LGBT community and the UPR 2013

in BANGLADESH, 29/04/2013

Homophobia ruined my childhood. As a child, I wasn’t strong enough to bear the insults and the punches all the other kids threw at me. I used to come home and cry every day, and the worst part was that I couldn’t tell anybody else. If only the society was a bit more tolerant, and parents taught their children that it is okay to be different, I could have had a nice childhood?

This is the anonymous story of a ninth-grader, posted on one of the various online groups for gay men and lesbian women in Bangladesh. He is not alone. In Bangladesh, like everywhere else in the world, some men love men and some women love women, and their stories often sadly resemble the story of the anonymous ninth-grader. Homophobia is endemic, but things are slowly changing, and Bangladesh’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens need our support in their struggle against bullying and discrimination.

Since 2001, when the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriages, more than a dozen other nations have followed the Dutch example, most recently and just a few days ago France. In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a historic resolution in which the inter-governmental body expressed “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.? United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged the Council to respond to the “widespread bias at jobs, schools and hospitals, and appalling violent attacks, including sexual assault,? referring to the fact that gay men and lesbian women have been imprisoned, tortured and killed as “a monumental tragedy for those affected, … a stain on our collective conscience,? and a violation of international law.

In Bangladesh, people who are attracted to members of the same sex not only suffer the social stigma of “being different,? like the anonymous ninth-grader, but are also discriminated against as a matter of law. Bangladesh belongs to a minority of states that not only refuse to recognize same-sex unions, but also criminalize same-sex sexual relationships.

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