Monthly Archives: October 2009

Uganda MP urges death for gay sex

A gay activist in Uganda wearing a mask (photo: Katherine Elaine Roubos)

Ugandan gay people have long alleged persecution

A Ugandan MP has proposed creating an offence of “aggravated homosexuality” to be punishable by death.

Ruling party MP David Bahati wants the death penalty for those having gay sex with disabled people, under-18s or when the accused is HIV-positive.

Homosexual acts are already illegal, but the Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposes new offences and urges the toughening of existing penalties.

Earlier versions of the bill were widely criticised by rights groups.

The BBC’s Joshua Mmali, in the capital Kampala, says the bill has a good chance of being passed as senior figures from the ruling National Resistance Movement are likely to back it.

President Yoweri Museveni has made several speeches outlining his own anti-gay views.

Gays ‘persecuted’

There are estimated to be 500,000 gay people in Uganda, from a population of about 31 million, according to gay rights groups.

Gay activists have long alleged persecution and existing laws already allow large fines and life imprisonment for some homosexual acts.

Members of parliament are overwhelmingly supporting this bill because homosexuality is illegal
John Otekat Emile
Independent MP

Mr Bahati’s bill proposes widening the definition of homosexual acts and wants to fine or imprison anyone found to be promoting homosexuality.

The bill states that its provisions are intended to “protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex”.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has urged the bill to be dismissed.

They say it violates several international agreements Uganda has signed up to – as well as contradicting the country’s own constitution.

But John Otekat Emile, an independent MP, said he believed the bill had a “99% chance” of being passed.

“Members of parliament are overwhelmingly supporting this bill because homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and we have that clearly in the penal code,” he told the BBC.

Emmanuel Dombo, an MP with the ruling party, agreed and said it was an important issue to investigate.

“What we need to look at are the sentences – what kind of sentences or punishment should be prescribed for sexual offenders in this respect – that is the big question,” he said.

But our correspondent says the authorities already find it difficult to prove cases under current laws because evidence is difficult to obtain.

Some people who have openly declared that they are gay have not been prosecuted because declaring sexual orientation is not a crime, our correspondent adds.

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Living on the Extreme Margin: Social Exclusion of the Transgender Population (Hijra) in Bangladesh

Sharful Islam Khan1, Mohammed Iftekher Hussain1, Shaila Parveen1, Mahbubul Islam Bhuiyan1,Gorkey Gourab1, Golam Faruk Sarker1, Shohael Mahmud Arafat2, and Joya Sikder3


1Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit, Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, GPO Box 128, Dhaka1000, Bangladesh,2Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka1000, Bangladesh, and 3Badhan Hijra Sangha,Kuril, Dhaka 1229, Bangladesh

ABSTRACT
The transgender people (hijra), who claim to be neither male nor female, are socially excluded in Bangladesh.This paper describes social exclusion of hijra [The term is used in this abstract both in singular and plural sense] focusing on the pathway between exclusion and sexual health. In an ethnographic study,50 in-depth interviews with hijra, 20 key-informant interviews, and 10 focus-group discussions (FGDs),along with extensive field observations, were conducted. The findings revealed that hijra are located at the extreme margin of exclusion having no sociopolitical space where a hijra can lead life of a human being with dignity. Their deprivations are grounded in non-recognition as a separate gendered human being beyond the male-female dichotomy. Being outside this norm has prevented them from positioning themselves in greater society with human potential and security. They are physically, verbally, and sexually
abused. Extreme social exclusion diminishes self-esteem and sense of social responsibility. Before safer sex interventions can be effective in a broader scale, hijra need to be recognized as having a space on society’s gender continuum. Hijra, as the citizens of Bangladesh and part of society’s diversity, have gender, sexual and citizenship rights, that need to be protected.

Read the full article here: http://www.icddrb.org/images/JHPN274-Living_on_the_Extreme_Margin_Social_Exclusion_of_the_Transgender_Population(Hijra)_in_Bangladesh.pdf

____________________________________________________________________________

Comments by Ashok DEB:

Joya Sikdar

Joya Sikdar

This research paper has been published by ICDDR- B and prominent Trans Right activist Joya Sikdar has actively contributed to this article. This can be conceived as a step in the right direction as we need the members of the Trans Community to speak out for themselves.Generally the trans population in Bangladesh are unethically utilized by the research workers to gather a glimpse into their secretive lives and societies. Generally these researchers, some of them have even self-appointed themselves Hijra Experts of Bangladesh, have treated these individuals from an anthropological point of view, rather ignoring the massive human rights violations,anti-pathy and societal marginalization these individuals suffer in Bangladesh.

Presently the Trans community needs to identify resourceful members within its own community to steer them into a direction where they can co-exist within the conservative Islamic fabric of Bangladesh. This research paper vividly describes the discrimination, persecution, physical abuses and rights violation that the Trans community in Bangladesh are being subjected to relentlessly.

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Filed under Analysis of Homosexual Issues, Bangladesh persecution of Homosexuals, Bangladesh Trans Issues, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-Indian Subcontinent

VOA News: IGHLRC Challenges Uganda’s New Same-Sex Proposal

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 21 16.32

VOA News: IGHLRC Challenges Uganda’s New Same-Sex Proposal
10/16/2009

A coalition of 17 local and international human rights groups have joined together to fight wide-ranging anti-homosexual legislation introduced this week in Uganda’s parliament. The coalition says restrictions move beyond bedroom conduct to challenge basic freedoms of expression and assembly and place barriers against the promotion of HIV/AIDS prevention projects.

Executive director Cary Alan Johnson of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) says the law’s discriminative and harsh punitive features represent a last-ditch effort by anti-gay and evangelical groups to restrict personal freedoms in Uganda and in other African countries, and he hopes the rights groups can prevent the bill’s passage.

Read the full article »

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Two public lectures on SEXUALITY by Dr. Saskia Wieringa at Dhaka Uni & BRAC

Crossposted from Sakyani Message board

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sakhiyani/message/249

First public Lecture in Dhaka University the Department of Women and Gender Studies of Dhaka University has invited Dr. Saskia Wieringa form the University of Amsterdam for a public Guest Lecture in Dhaka University.
On 19th October 10.00 – 12.00, Dr. Wieringa will lecture on “Sexuality Studies in Asia – history and prospect” at the Seminar Room of  Senate Building near Registrar building/Arts Faculty, DU.

Second Public Lecture at BRAC University James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University has organized a public seminar on Heteronormativity by Dr. Saskia Wieringa our distinguished guest speaker from Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam.

Date: October 20, 2009

Time: 10:00 am to  12:00 pm

Venue: BRAC University indoor games room, 66 Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212

NB: A short Bio of the guest speaker is pasted bellow for more details:
About Saskia:


Prof. Saskia Wieringa presently has worked extensively on gender issues, women’s empowerment, and women’s organizations. For the last ten years, her major work interests have been on the issues of sexual empowerment, women’s same sex relations and HIV/AIDS. She is the co-founder of the Kartini Network on Asian Women’s Studies.

Major recent publications are: Sexual Politics in Indonesia (Palgrave/MacMillan, 2002), Female Desires (Co-edited with Evelyn Blackwood), Columbia University Press 1999, which won the 1999 Ruth Benedict Award and Tom Boys, Lesbian Men and Ancestral Wives (with Ruth Morgan) Jacana Publishers, 2005.  She coordinates a comparative research project on women’s sexual empowerment between India and Indonesia, that is funded by the Ford Foundation and HIVOS. She is also the Director of the IIAV, the International Information Centre and Archives for the Women’s Movement.

___________________________________________________________________________

Some glimpses of Dr Saskia in Dhaka on International Tolerance Day, 16th Nov 2003 held at UN Information Centre Auditorium


saskia1

saskia3

saskia4

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Bangalore felt like second home to me: Tanvir Alim

Submitted by Tanvir Alim

Edited by Ashok DEB

Tanvir Alim ( BoB Moderator ) visited India last month for a scheduled discussion with a Bangalore based LGBT group GooD As You. This group acts as an intellectual meeting point for the sexual minorities of the fastest growing yet an conservative metropolis of India.

On 24th Sep 2009, Tanvir attended the  Good As you Thursday meet which is their  general weekly meeting. Here the Bangladeshi delegate  talked about BoB’s  policy, their members, events, pride and visibility issues which he  found to be very similar with the host organisation.

On returning back home Tanvir expresses, “Actually the whole south India is pretty much like Bangladesh. I felt like 2nd home.”

A few glimpses of southern Bangalore caught through the lenses of Tanvir are presented below:

tanvir 1

Conservatism of Bangalore is slowly adapting to accept and co-exist with the non-normative genders

The Good for You Thurday meet

The Good As You, Thursday meet

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Tanvir Forwards the ideology and activities of GooD As You, Bangalore Group

Good As You, Bangalore

Good As You is a social and intellectual space for LesBiGay (lesbian, bisexuals, gays and other sexual minorities) people of Bangalore.

Good As You aims to:

  • Create awareness and pride in Indian LesBiGay identities.
  • Promote Indian LesBiGay expressions through Art, Literature and other means.
  • Foster positive and realistic view of Indian LesBiGay relationships.
  • Provide counseling/support/friendship to those who ask for it.
  • To transcend all barriers of gender, language, caste, class, religion, region, color, creed, marital status and reach out to all our brothers and sisters and others who face social or psychological oppression because of their sexuality.

Good As You started in February 1994. It is a safe space for LesBiGay people to discuss, debate, share views and information which will help them to come to terms with their sexuality. It has had at least a thousand participants over the last 5 years.

Good As You meets every week. Discussions in the group range from issues on LesBiGay rights and the paths to tackle homophobia; from discussion on coming out to family, friends and colleagues to relating personal experiences to the group and other activities to make people comfortable with their sexuality.

Besides this, Good As You also brings out a newsletter in both English and Kannada called “Sangha Mitra”.

Good As You helped sponsor the first ever rights seminar organized in India by some students of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore.

Activities

Good As You Thursdays

The Good As You group meets every week on Thursday at 7pm at the Swabhava office in Bangalore. These weekly meets bring together a group of information technology professionals, lawyers, doctors, artists, fashion designers, teachers, business people, students and others. The discussion ranges from issues such as LGBT rights, coming out to family and friends to general talks on culture and entertainment.  Anyone is welcome to come to these weekly meets as it offers a space where you can be yourself and talk to others who are like-minded.

GRAB Sundays

Every Sunday, half a dozen gay men run in the city’s Cubbon Park. Later, more join in as the group meets for idlis, vadas and coffee at the old-world Airlines Hotel. They call themselves the Gay Running and Breakfast (GRAB) club.  Though for many its just the steaming hot food and conversations, than the running. GRAB happens every Sunday morning at 10.00am. So if you come by then and see a group of men huddled around a few tables talking and laughing animatedly, you will know who they are!

Address: Good As You,

C/O Swabhava, 4th Floor, No. 1,

M.S. Plaza, 13th A Cross, 4th Main Road,

Sampangiramnagar, Bangalore – 560027.

Telephone: 080-22230959

Email: goodasyoublr@yahoogroups.com

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Filed under Ashok DEB, Boys of Bangladesh, Media-Indian Subcontinent, Tanvir Alim

New UN Assembly President Treki’s Statements on LGBT Rights outrages ILGA

rename

Crossposted from ILGA website

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/979.html

New UN Assembly President Treki’s Statements on LGBTI Rights and Decriminalisation of Homosexuality is Not “Some Kind of Democracy”
09/28/2009

ILGA is deeply worried and outraged by UN Assembly new President Ali Abdussalam Treki’s failure to consider the protection of the life and safety of lesbians, gay men, trans, intersex and bisexual people all over the world a matter of human rights.

In an interview prior to his first address to the UN Assembly in his new role, Mr Treki declared himself to be “not in favour at all” with reference to the Statement in favour of the decriminalisation of homosexuality signed by 66 Countries and read by the Argentinian representative last December at the General Assembly in New York.

Furthermore, Mr Treki said that the matter referred to by the Statement, i.e. decriminalisation, was “not acceptable in the majority of the world” and that “there are some countries that allow that (sic), thinking it is a kind of democracy.”

Considering that the Statement called for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality, one cannot but conclude that the new President of the UN Assembly is… in favour of criminalising lesbians and gay men, bisexual, trans and intersex people. The worrying and serious implications of this attitude, coming from the new head of an institution which is supposed to regard human rights – all human rights – as the most sacred value, cannot be overstated.

We appeal to the representatives of the States which signed the Statement against criminalisation of homosexuality, but also voted for the election of Mr. Treki in his new position, to demand an explanation to the UN Assembly President for his words and react consequently.

Gloria Careaga & Renato Sabbadini
Co-Secretaries General, ILGA

For more information, contact Renato Sabbadini, +32 474 857 950 or rentao@ilga.org

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Laila Hijra passes away

Crossposted from the Bideshis Blog.

http://thebideshis.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/laila-hijra-passes-away/

The words in the article WE and US refer to Sebastian Rist and Aude Leroux, two indviduals who are working on an documentary project on Bangladeshi Transexuals.

Picture of Laila Hijra in 2008-courtesy of Maciej Dakowicz

We got the news that on Tuesday september 18th, Guru Laila Hijra passed away.

Even though certain Hijra groups tend to clash, everybody could agree that they highly respected and admired Laila Hijra. Being one of the first Hijras in Bangladesh to speak out publicly  about their community’s  issues, Laila gained notoriety both on a nation and international level. She was one of the founding members and president until her death of ‘Shustha Jibon’; the first (and officially recognized by international ngos) Hijra community center of Bangladesh.

Shustha Jibon is one of the places where we teach our English classes to Hijras. We met Laila Hijra when we tried to convince her and her team to let us come and help out. Quiet and reserved, Laila was very kind and open to our idea, giving us advice but also being very efficient and organized with her decision making.We thank her for accepting us into her community, and we thank her for  giving us the opportunity to meet such wonderful people. Without her, our project wouldn’t be where it’s at right now.

I can’t imagine how the members of Shustha Jibon are feeling right now.

Are thoughts are with her friends and her family.

To view more pictures from Maciej Dakowicz click here


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Filed under Bangladesh Trans Issues, Media-Indian Subcontinent

Sunil Babu Pant Strongly Denounce new President of the United Nations’ ‘unacceptable’ views on homosexuality

Crossposted from

Thursday, 01 October 2009 at 19:51

I am extremely concerned and saddened when I heard: Taking his post at the opening of the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations, on 15 September 2009, Libyan Ali Abdussalam Treki suggested that homosexuality was unacceptable.

The newly-elected President was asked during his press conference about the UN Resolution calling for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality. “That matter is very sensitive, very touchy. As a Muslim, I am not in favour of it…it is not accepted by the majority of the countries. My opinion is not in favour of this matter at all, I think it is not really acceptable by our religion, our tradition”, he said.

I call on the President to represent all countries and people of all walks not only Muslims. He is there to defend the principles of the United Nations and that includes the Universal Declaration Human Rights Act 1948 and all following amendments and covenants of rights, including LGBT Human Rights.

His religious views should remain private and he must now speak on behalf of those who do not have a voice. He should know that the implications of his words could legitimize violence and hatred towards LGBTI people in country like Libya.

Nepal, along with 66 countries, signed the Resolution in favour of the decriminalization of homosexuality and passed last December. Nepal is very much committed to realize full equality and justice for all regardless of sexual orientations and gender identities.

Sunil Babu Pant
MP, Nepal
Founder, Blue Diamond Society
Coordinator, Parliamentary Action Team on Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.

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Experiencing CSBR conference in Istanbul

bobComments by Ashok DEB: A prominent gay rights activist who is also a  talented painter from Bangladesh attended the International Conference organized by CSBR in Istanbul last month.Here he writes about the policies and decisions that were adopted in the Conferrence. Turkey is perceived to be a liberal Islamic state with morals and virtues which conform somewhat to the modern International norms. Yet the country has experienced rapid Homo & Transphobia in the recent days, where the atrocities ranged from Hate crimes to even Honour Killings.We hope such dialogues will assist to create an amicable environment where the sexual minorities would be able to live their life a bit more peacefully.


___________________________________________________________________________

Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction.

Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed.

Sexuality is influences by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.“ World Health Organization, working definition, 2004

Over the course of seven packed days in mid-September 2009, I had the chance to take part in the 2nd CSBR Sexuality Institute in Istanbul, Turkey, organized by the Istanbul-based NGO Women for Womens Human Rights (WWHR) “ New Ways, which serves as the international coordination office of the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR). I was there as a represent of BOB. And I have to say those were seven of the most fulfilling, enriching, and thought-provoking days of my life so far, which I shared with 18 other participants from the Middle East and North Africa, South and South East Asia. The 11 “ 18 September 2009 CSBR Institute was a treasure trove, a feast of information and knowledge.
The Institute is designed to advance participants knowledge, understanding, research and advocacy skills for sexual, reproductive and bodily health and rights, while strengthening their theoretical background and analysis of sexuality in Muslim societies and introducing CSBRs holistic and affirmative discourse on sexuality.

To this end, the aims of the CSBR Sexuality Institute are:

To further knowledge on the multi-dimensional and intersecting aspects of sexuality, health and rights;
To develop a deeper theoretical understanding of sexuality through a historical overview and analysis of current debates and research at the global level;
To provide a comprehensive and holistic understanding of sexuality in Muslim societies through a discussion of the history, legal frameworks, research, and current discourses;
To enhance participants’ sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy skills on national and international levels;
To increase participants’ capacity as leading advocates, practitioners and researchers on sexuality issues at national, regional and international levels.

Sexuality is a transfer point for relations of power. Power is not a thing. Its a relation. Its productive, not only repressive. Its not only the property of the state. Its exercised throughout the social body. Everybody participates to some degree in the continuation or modification of existing power relations.

Regards

*******( Name with held)

Boys Of Bangladesh

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CSBR discusses SEXUALITY in context to ISLAMIC SHARIA

Crossposted from BoB message board where the article was forwarded by a BoB member who attended the CSBR conference in Istanbul.

Sexuality and Sharia

f_islam

As the international coordination office of the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR), Women for Women and Human Rights (WWHR) “ New Ways organized the 2nd CSBR Sexuality Institute in Istanbul, Turkey on 11 “ 18 September 2009.

During the seven-day gathering, Siti Musdah Mulia, an expert on Islamic jurisprudence and chairperson of the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP), led two sessions on sexuality and Sharia.

She argued that people were equal in the eyes of God regardless of their gender, ethnicity, wealth, social status or sexual orientation. She said that what is considered sinful is people who commit sexual violence, pedophilia and other crimes.

Mulia underlined womens right to their own bodies. Female sexuality is a right that belongs solely and fully to women,she stressed. Womens morality cannot be judged from sexuality, nor from the male point of view.

In a session especially dedicated to understanding LGBT issues in Islam, Mulia made a distinction between sexual orientation as an irreversible, predestined character that includes several variants including heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and asexual, and sexual behavior as a learned behavior by which someone channels his or her sexual desire in a manner that is influenced by social construction that imposes heteronormativity or heterosexual orientation as the single truth.

She added: Islamic law doesnt speak about the issue of sexual orientation, but speaks about sexual behavior. Islamic law is always directed to the deeds done by human beings offering free choices, not to something that is predestined in nature for which human beings are offered no choices.

Mulia explained that Islamic condemnation of homosexuality arose from a narrow-minded and literal interpretation of the story of Lot and his people. She offered an alternative understanding of the story, underlining how God enacted his punishment because the people of Lot committed abuses, acts of violence and sexual exploitation, and because their behavior was unjust and discriminatory.

The big obstruction of LGBT people is the religious interpretation, not the religion itself,she said, that is a heteronormative, gender-biased and patriarchal interpretation. Biased interpretation is intentionally preserved from generation to generation in the name of God for the interest of reaching political objectives.

To fight these systems of oppression, Mulia suggested the following courses of action:

  • Re-reading texts and providing an alternative vision and challenging the hegemony and monopoly of those who claim to be the guardians of theology;
  • Developing a new religious interpretation that is more human, more egalitarian, more conducive to peace, piety, justice and promotes human rights. In other words, promoting Islamic humanism, which leads to the appreciation of human dignity;
  • Struggling for the right of interpretation;
  • Striving to change the culture from patriarchal to egalitarian; and
  • Reforming Islamic family law because it inflames the behavior of governments and society as a whole

http://www.bekhsoos.com/web/2009/09/sexuality-and-sharia/

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Seminar on ‘Heteronormativity’ by Dr. Saskia Wieringa on 20th October

Crossposted from Sakhiyani Message Board

JPG SPH, BU has organized a public seminar on ‘Heteronormativity’ by Dr. Saskia Wieringa our distinguished guest speaker from Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam..

Date: October 20, 2009

Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Venue: BRAC University indoor games room, 66 Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212

NB: A short Bio of the guest speaker is pasted bellow for more details:
……………………………..


Prof. dr. Saskia Wieringa (PhD University of Amsterdam) has worked
extensively on issues of gender planning, women’s empowerment, and women’s
organizations. She co-designed the African Gender and Development Index
for the Economic Commission of Africa.

For the last ten years her major work interests have been on the issues of
sexual empowerment, women’s same sex relations and HIV/AIDS. She is the
co-founder of the Kartini Network on Asian Women’s Studies.

Major recent publications are: Sexual Politics in Indonesia
(Palgrave/MacMillan, 2002), Female Desires (Co-edited with Evelyn
Blackwood), Columbia University Press 1999, which won the 1999 Ruth
Benedict Award and Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men and Ancestral Wives (with Ruth
Morgan) Jacana Publishers, 2005.  She coordinates a comparative research
project on women’s sexual empowerment between India and Indonesia, that is
funded by the Ford Foundation and Hivos. She is also the Director of the

IIAV, the International Information Centre and Archives for the Women’s Movement.

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Evergreen Documentary Project receives French funding

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 13 15.12

By Ashok DEB

Sebastian Rist and Aude Lerox are two dedicated individuals  working on an educational documentary project on Bangladeshi Transexuals, namely the Hijra community ,who are worst affected by societal anti-pathy and Transphobia. Sebastian and Aude have been staying in Dhaka for over an year now and runs three schools for the Hijra Communities. In fact these two individuals could be perceived as the next generation Hijra experts on Bangladesh,who have gained considerable insight of this impoverished and highly margnalised community.

Recently they have released a demo version of their documentary where few glimpses of societal atrocities and rejection on  Bangladeshi Trans community were framed.They have received assistance from a French production House for their project which was announced in this email below.

Hey people,

We’ve been waiting for the right moment to tell you, but we just recently signed a contract with a French production company. This is great news because it means that we will be guided by a team of professionals who will be there to give us support and advice along the way. We still have total creative control over the project and idea; the only difference is that the budget is slightly higher and the 52 minute Documentary has to be completed by the end of the year.

That said,  after a few delays we can officially say that the shoot will begin Sunday. We’ll try to post some production stills along the way. We’re really excited, Salma and Pinky are too!

Thanks to everyone  (Both in Canada and in Bangladesh) who have helped us get to where we are now,

Stayed tuned, there will be more to come,

Seb and Aude

————————————————————————————————————————

This is the demo release of their documentary project:

In English Subtitles:

In French Subtitles:


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Filed under Ashok DEB, Bangladesh LGBT events, Bangladesh Trans Issues, Media-Indian Subcontinent, Media-International