Category Archives: Boys of Bangladesh

Human rights: Bangladesh’s LGBT Community and the UPR 2013

Bangladesh will be subject to Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on April 29. The UPR is a mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that will examine Bangladesh’s overall human rights performance during the last four and a half years. It will be the second UPR cycle, following the first one in 2009.

The UPR aims at improving the human rights situation on the ground in each of the 193 United Nations (UN) member states. Each UN member state is subjected to this review every four and a half years. The reason UPR is important for Bangladesh, or any state for that matter, is the opportunity for stakeholders to submit their own reports along with the one from the government. The mechanism has hence proved to be very popular and powerful in upholding the human rights of marginalized or disenfranchised groups.
The sexual and gender minority community of Bangladesh has also discovered this new mechanism as a way to raise awareness for the violations of their human rights on an international platform. In 2009, based on reports prepared by local rights groups, Chile and the Czech Republic made three recommendations to the Government of Bangladesh that, if implemented, would improve the legal status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Bangladesh.
Two of the recommendations were to decriminalise same-sex relationships by abolishing Section 377 of the Bangladesh Penal Code, which is a remainder of British colonialism. Another recommendation was to educate law enforcers and judicial officers about LGBT issues, and to adopt further measures to ensure the protection of LGBT persons against violence and abuse.
The Government of Bangladesh rejected the first two recommendations, saying that “Bangladesh is a society with strong traditional and cultural values. Same-sex activity is not an acceptable norm to any community in the country. Indeed, sexual orientation is not an issue in Bangladesh. There has been no concern expressed by any quarter in the country on this.” The government, however, accepted the recommendation of training law enforcers to protect sexual and gender minorities.
When Bangladesh comes under review for the second cycle in a few days, more specific recommendations from UN member states are expected to ease the plight of LGBT people. But, given the current political situation of the country, the issue may be dumped way beneath the pile of other issues. That is why it is important that the media, civil society and the community endorse the cause of sexual and gender minorities.
Boys of Bangladesh (BoB), the largest platform of self-identified gay men in Bangladesh, has put forward a number of recommendations from the LGBT community in the stakeholders’ report this year. One of the main recommendations is to conduct a government survey about human rights violations victimising LGBT persons in the country. Such a survey is necessary to learn more about the discrimination, stigma and violence LGBT persons face in Bangladesh, and to develop strategies to address these human rights violations.
The government already has an extensive HIV/AIDS program under the Ministry of Health, which also includes men who have sex with men (MSM) and Hijras. Hence, the government’s claim that sexual orientation is not an issue in the country is only a way to brush aside the realities, and to avoid acknowledging human rights violations of sexual and gender minorities.
BoB thinks that it is time for the government to acknowledge the existence of this clandestine but significant population, and to take appropriate measures to address the violations of their human rights. After all, sexual and gender minorities are part of every family, every society and are integral development partners of the country.

The writer is a human rights activist and a volunteer at Boys of Bangladesh (BoB), a non-registered, non-funded, informal network of self-identified gay men in Bangladesh.

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CSBR Bangladesh: A first for the Queer members of Bengali society

Crossposted from CSBR e-news

http://www.wwhr.org/files/CSBR_Enews_Winter_2009.pdf

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One Day, One Struggle: Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies

Parts of the article have been crossposted from ILGHRC website. Get the original articles here

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/1026.html

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/1039.html

Hundreds joined forces across the globe to establish a milestone in the struggle for sexual and reproductive rights in Muslim societies
11/20/2009

IGLHRC believes that a vital part of our mission is supporting the work of activist organizations and allies by disseminating important information on human rights issues affecting LGBT communities worldwide. To this end we are reposting the following announcement from one of our partners.

Updates from Bangladesh

On November 9, 2009, a diverse group of nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions and activists across the Middle East, North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia carried out “One Day, One Struggle” events to promote sexual and bodily rights as human rights. Below are some of the campaign updates, including the national launch of a pioneering research on sexuality and rights; a panel and cultural show on what it means to be a hijra (transgender) in Bangladesh, a discussion on the place of sexuality and pleasure in the Koran, and a queer-straight alliance meeting in Pakistan

Bangladesh: Pioneering research is being done on sexuality and rights in Bangladesh

Bangladesh: The Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS (CGSH) at the James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) of BRAC University shared the findings of a pioneering research project on sexuality and rights in urban Bangladesh.

The Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS (CGSH) at the James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) of BRAC University shared the findings of a trailblazing research project on sexuality and rights in urban Bangladesh. This exploratory study, the first of its kind, maps the manifold and changing understandings of sexuality, identity and rights among university students, factory workers, and sexual and gender minorities in Dhaka city. Dr. Dina Siddiqi, Sexuality Network Coordinator and Visiting Professor at the CGSH presented research findings on sexuality and rights in Dhaka. Other speakers were Dr. Sabina Faiz Rashid and Dr. Anwar Islam from the James P. Grant School of Public Health, Dr. Hilary Standing from the Realizing Rights Research Consortium, and Dr. Firdous Azim from the BRAC University Department of English and Humanities. A total of approximately 100 participants including journalists from the Bangladesh media, leaders of groups representing people of marginalized sexual orientations, independent researchers, anthropologists, public health professionals and NGO representatives were also present at the panel.

Bangladesh: A First for the Queer Members of Bengali Society

Boys of Bangladesh (BoB) arranged an event titled “Jaago” (Wake-up) with a movie screening followed by an informal public forum targeting the Bangladeshi LGBTT community and its supporters, selected media, other supportive NGOs and the public.

Torch Song Trilogy was screened to a diverse audience and was met with enthusiasm by both queer and straight participants. These two BoB events aimed to increase affirmative awareness and visibility on sexuality, initiate a dialogue around marginalized genders and sexualities, strengthen the bond among the LGBTT community and strengthen the alliance between queer and straight members of Bengali society. One remarkable aspect of these activities was that BoB organized a public event for the first time since its foundation.

Bandhu Social Welfare Organization had a lively discussion on different sexualities and identities as part of the international One Day, One Struggle campaign. In this event, LGBTT community members and their friends shared experiences and ideas about sexuality, identity, norms and freedoms.

Bangladesh: Discussing the place of sexuality and pleasure in the Koran

Naripokkho organized a panel discussion entitled “Sexuality and Our Rights” which was moderated by Naripokkho member English professor Firdous Azim. Tamanna Khan, the president of Naripokkho and Shuchi Karim, a doctoral student at ISS in the Netherlands working on female sexuality in Bangladesh gave short presentations that were followed by an open discussion on the place of sexuality and pleasure in the Koran. Approximately 30 Naripokkho members participated in this event.

Bangladesh: Being hijra (transgender) in Bangladesh

Kotha from Socheton Shilpi Shongho

Rangberong and Shochaton Shilpa Shangha organized a panel followed by a cultural show, both of which addressed specifically the hijra (transgender) community in Bangladesh. The panel hosted the speakers Ivan Ahmed Katha, the transgender president of the Shochetan Shilpa Shangha Association, Roksana Sultana, a journalist from BBC World, Nasrin Akhter Joli, the Deputy Director of the Hunger Project – Bangladesh and Mumtaz Begum, the former president of the Sex Workers’ Association. Police brutality and other problems faced by hijras on a daily basis were the main discussion topics of the panel. The cultural show afterwards included a musical performance specific to the hijra community that documented “why and how they became hijras, how this played havoc with their lives and how it is that they still love men.”

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International Campaign to Promote Human Rights across Muslim Societies

Crossposted from ILGHRC website

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/997.html

IGLHRC believes that a vital part of our mission is supporting the work of activist organizations and allies by disseminating important information on human rights issues affecting LGBT communities worldwide. To this end we are reposting the following announcement from one of our partners.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) – New Ways
Email: irazca.geray@wwhr.org
Tel: +90 212 251 00 29

Human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights have been under attack in all Muslim societies. Rising conservatism, fueled by militarism, increasing inequalities, the politicization of religion and Islamophobia have strengthened patriarchal and extremist religious ideologies. For instance, last week a woman in Turkey was asked to get written consent from her rapist in order to have an abortion which is against all existing legal regulations, while a recent bill passed in the Sudan annulled the prohibition of FGM/C and a new legislation in Indonesia’s Aceh now allows for stoning to death as punishment for adultery, while the bodily and sexual rights of Palestinian women continue to be violated in the shadow of the apartheid wall…These examples remind us again that sexuality is not a private issue but a site of political struggle.

On November 9, 2009, a very diverse group of NGOs will stage bold actions in 11 countries to promote human rights. As part of the historic international campaign “One Day One Struggle” organized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR), over 20 organizations will hold simultaneous events and public demonstrations on topics like protesting customary practices such as honor killings and FGM/C, overturning discriminatory and life threatening laws like stoning or lashing of women, and calling for LGBT rights, the right to sexuality education and the right to bodily and sexual integrity of all people.

During the Campaign that promises to be a milestone event in the history of the sexual and reproductive rights movement, hundreds will gather in university campuses in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Lebanon and the Sudan, at press conferences in Cyprus, Egypt and Malaysia, in conference and concert halls in Tunisia and Pakistan and on the streets of Turkey and Palestine, to assert that sexual and reproductive rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity and equality of all human beings.

########

CSBR is a globally renowned solidarity network of progressive NGOs and premier academic institutions in the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, working to promote sexual and bodily rights as human rights in Muslim societies. www.wwhr.org/csbr.php

To find out more about the Campaign in:

Bangladesh:
Bandhu Social Welfare Organization, Centre for Gender, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Naripokkho, Rongberong: sabina@bracu.ac.bd; dmsiddiqi@yahoo.com
Boys of Bangladesh (BoB): xecon27@yahoo.com

Cyprus:
Feminist Workshop (FEMA): feministatolye@gmail.com

Egypt:
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), New Woman Foundation (NWF): eipr@eipr.org

Indonesia:
GAYa NUSANTRA: maria.notes@yahoo.com
Puan Amal Hayati Foundation (PUAN): atashabsjah@yahoo.com

Lebanon:
Meem: lynn@meemgroup.org
Helem: ghassan@helem.net

Maylasia:
Women’s Aid Organization (WAO), All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Sisters in Islam (SIS), Empower: vizlakumaresan@yahoo.co.uk

Pakistan:
Vision: ahsan_anwari@hotmail.com
Organization for the Protection and Propagation of the Rights of Sexual Minorities (OPPRSM): kylapasha@gmail.com

Palestine:
Gender Studies Project at MADA Al-Carmel, Arab Center for Applied Social Research: himmat@mada-research.org
Muntada, The Arab Forum for Sexuality, Education and Health: safa.tamish@gmail.com
Women Against Violence (WAV): aida_touma_slima@hotmail.com; wav_org@hotmail.com

Sudan:
Ahfad University for Women: Amani_elkhatim@yahoo.com

Tunisia:
Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates (ATFD):ahlembelhadj@gmail.com; childpsy_razi@yahoo.fr

TURKEY:
Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) – New Ways: irazca.geray@wwhr.org

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BoB set to be a part of Global CSBR celebration “One Day Struggle”

common_banner2

Banner which BoB will be using for the campaign.

Forwarded by Xecon and BoB

Edited by Ashok DEB

For the first time ever BoB will be publicly holding a campaign called ‘Jaago, One Day One Struggle’ on November 9. It’s a part of the international campaign involving 13 countries to raise awareness around sexuality and bodily rights initiated by CSBR, a coalition of LGBT organizations in the Muslim societies. The venue of this event is kept undisclosed for  security reasons.

BoB’s message board  announced the event by forwarding this e-mail to its members.

On November 9, 2009, a very diverse group of organizations will stage bold actions in 10 countries to promote human rights.

As part of the historic international campaign “One Day One Struggle” organized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR), over 20 organizations will hold simultaneous events and public demonstrations on topics like protesting customary practices such as honor killings and FGM/C, overturning discriminatory and life threatening laws like stoning or lashing of women, and calling for LGBT rights, the right to sexuality education and the right to bodily and sexual integrity of all people.

During the Campaign that promises to be a milestone event in the history of the sexual and reproductive rights movement, hundreds will gather in university campuses in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Lebanon and the Sudan, at public forums in Malaysia, North Cyprus and Turkey, in conference and concert halls in Tunisia and Pakistan and on the streets of Palestine, to assert that sexual and reproductive rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity and equality of all human beings.

bob film Boys of Bangladesh is proud to be a party of this international campaign and is     arranging this Film Show for the BD LGBT community to express their solidarity with the campaign. Please join in hands and come in bunches to celebrate and foster diversity which makes each of us unique and dignified.

There is no entrance fee for the film show but do confirm your participation beforehand if you don’t want to see the whole movie standing.

Call: Xecon **********
E-mail: xecon27@yahoo.com

And to get a glimpse of the movie, click here

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0292066/

Xecon,a prominent BoB activist who attended the CSBR seminar in Turkey this September forwarded the following Press Release about the  International campaign One Day Struggle to be celebrated in 11 Islamic nations.

one day 1

Press Release

International Campaign to Promote Human Rights across Muslim Societies

Human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights have been under attack in all Muslim societies. Rising conservatism, fueled by militarism, increasing inequalities, the politicization of religion and Islamophobia have strengthened patriarchal and extremist religious ideologies. For instance, last week a woman in Turkey was asked to get written consent from her rapist in order to have an abortion, while a recent bill passed in the Sudan annulled the prohibition of FGM/C and a new legislation in Indonesia’s Aceh now allows for stoning to death as punishment for adultery, while the bodily and sexual rights of Palestinian women continue to be violated in the shadow of the apartheid wall… These examples remind us again that sexuality is not a private issue but a site of political struggle.

On November 9, 2009, a very diverse group of NGOs will stage bold actions in 11 countries to promote human rights. As part of the historic international campaign “One Day One Struggle” organized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR), over 20 organizations will hold simultaneous events and public demonstrations on topics like protesting customary practices such as honor killings and FGM/C, overturning discriminatory and life threatening laws like stoning or lashing of women, and calling for LGBT rights, the right to sexuality education and the right to bodily and sexual integrity of all people.

During the Campaign that promises to be a milestone event in the history of the sexual and reproductive rights movement, hundreds will gather in university campuses in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Lebanon and the Sudan, at press conferences in Cyprus, Egypt and Malaysia, in conference and concert halls in Tunisia and Pakistan and on the streets of Turkey and Palestine, to assert that sexual and reproductive rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity and equality of all human beings.

CSBR is a globally renowned solidarity network of progressive NGOs and premier academic institutions in the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, working to promote sexual and bodily rights as human rights in Muslim societies. www.wwhr.org/csbr.php

To find out more about the Campaign in BANGLADESH contact:

-          Centre for Gender, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University: sabina@bracu.ac.bd; dmsiddiqi@yahoo.com

-          Boys of Bangladesh (BoB): xecon27@yahoo.com

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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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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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