Category Archives: Ashok DEB

Goethe Institute-Dhaka hosts photo exhibition on male homosexuality

Submitted by Tanvir Alim

Compiled and Edited by Ashoka DEB


The Goethe-Institut acts as a liason centre of the foreign cultural policy of Germany. Currently the centre is hosting Under the Rainbow’ festival which showcases several programmes  employing the popular medium of dance, film and photography. The main theme of this event is to discover the beauty of loving , realising and revealing who and what you are, while breaking down the culture. A strong and bold statement indeed, in a nation where inter personal relationships are bruised,battered and dictated through pre-determined puritanistic norms and societal scrutiny.

Goethe will screen a few path breaking movies which have left lasting impressions in the field of gay rights and feminist movements.I will provide you here with a brief synopsis of the scheduled movies.

Brokeback Mountains:

In this story, two young men meet and fall in love on the Brokeback Mountain in Wmoying in 1963. The film documents their complex relationship over time and how they succumbed to the social norms of getting married and publicly deny their affection. This film somewhat mirrors  and reminds us of the typical end of  relationships which the closetted Bangladeshi gays are forced to face over time.

If those walls could talk :

Its a fascinating movie which depicts the plights of three different women and their experiences with abortion. Each of the three stories takes place in the same house in three different years: 1952, 1974, and 1996.  The movie vividly depicts each women’s experiences or to be more precise the helplessness across their individual circumstances demonstrating the dictates of puritan society over her own body. A very strong yet touching feminist film indeed.

Fried Green Tomatoes:

This film portrays how a timid housewife who is unhappy in her marital relationship befriends a tomboyish women, who teaches her to assert her rightful share of joy and later finally garners courage to invite her lesbian lover for a live in relationship. A textbook demonstration of transformation or metamorphosis what we non-normative genders aspire and dream of.

Photo exhibition:


I first saw the works of Ghazi Nafis on his project “Community” across his website which portrays the state of homosexuality in Bangladesh. Ghazi, a photo journalist of repute, often works on social issues for the oppressed and suppressed communities , and the Bangladeshi homosexual community is no exception to this.His images make subtle yet powerful statements about the severely depressed psychological state of the Bangladeshi gays who have pushed themselves deep inside the closets to avoid approbations of any sort.  I have noticed that many global LGBT activists consider internet based associations formed by party loving Bangladeshi gays belonging to the higher social strata as the sole barometer of  same sex culture. Ghazi Nafis has painstakingly caught the glimpses of those Forbidden Relationships which blossom secretly across closetted indoors, yet violently denied in public by cautiosly meandering away from societal scrutiny to mitigate harshness and ridiculing. Yes, his lenses caught the glimpses of real state of homosexuality or gay culture in Bangladesh in truest form, the way it exists and has always existed……the CLOSETTED WAY.



You can have a look at his works at the  PHOTO EXHIBITION ‘Looking at Inner Face’ which is scheduled between December 12, 06:00 pm – December 26 at Goethe Institute Dhaka

Location:


House 10,

Road 4 (new), Dhanmondi R/A,

Dhaka, Bangladesh
For more info mail
intern2@dhaka.goethe.org
Or log on to the Website:
http://www.goethe.de/dhaka


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Filed under Ashok DEB, Bangladesh LGBT events, Media-Indian Subcontinent, Tanvir Alim

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

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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

__________________________________________________________________________

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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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

A text book case how sexuality is enforced upon in Bangladeshi society

0808_194211By Ashok DEB

I was undergoing my usual routine of checking the emails when I stumbled upon this message. The desperate sender frantically sent this message to a number of LGBTI defenders of the sub-continent on the early hours of 17th JULY 2009.

The email read this:

Dear Friends, hope & trust you all are fine or hope you all are pretending to be fine. I am John (co-moderator) . I am from Bangladesh. I am Gay & I am proud to be Gay. But I am not happy. Because, my family knows about my homosexuality. They were somewhat moderate first time. But recently they have changed their masks and became somewhat homophobic. I could not write long time to the group because my family attacked me physically. I was injured.I went to the Police Station. But they did not allow me to file a case or General Diary. Police sayed, ”You are a feminine type boy. Tell me are you Kothi or drug-addict or prost? We are not allowing you to file a GD. Its a silly family matter. So we do not deal with this types of silly matters.” Then they called my dad & told him to take me back to home (hell). My dad, mom, sister & even my younger brother bit me to death. I was seriously injured. One of my friend came to help me. Otherwise, I could be killed. Now I am rather better. And now they are saying to leave home. They have given me nottice to leave home within 7 days. My partner does not live in Bangladesh. So he is helpless. Now could you please tell me, Gay means Happy or Unhappy? Can you tell me when the domestic violences will be abolished? Can anyone tell? When will my Bangla become SONAR BANGLA & GAY BANGLA? Friends, we need to go a very long way, our journey has not finished yet, its just started and we do not know our destination ! Well, friends, you take care. And be fine or pretend to be fine when you are being killed by your family, society, religion & state! Bye for now. Pink Salute! In solidarity – John, co-moderator

So I could figure out that it was John Ashley, moderator of an online gay networking group called BAG ( Bangladesh Association for Gays ) in Khulna. I have never met John in my life and chances are dim that it will ever happen. But this email sent shivers in my spine as I could correlate the psychological stress this individual has been subjected to.

Sexual minorities are not safe in Bangladesh. Or in other words, they are safe as long as they can carefully conceal their sexual identity and deny their preference of same sex partners. They are safe as long they are closeted, invisible and undetected. Visibility and expressing their desired sexuality exposes the homosexuals to immense societal approbation and segregation. To mitigate this harshness most of them have chosen the comfort of the dark self denial closet.

Unfortunately the law of the land as well the puritan mindset of the Bangladeshi society brands an individual as a criminal for his non normative gender patterns. And such individuals are subjected to severe societal scrutiny, ridiculing, abuses as well as raging homophobic attacks. Generally the source of violence could be traced out from

1. Family members

2. The society or self proclaimed morality minders of the society

3. Lastly the Law enforcers or the police.

In case of John Ashley it was his family who went on aggressive over him beating him so severe that the individual feared his end. In the Middle Eastern Islamic society we have incidents of honor killings of gays by their own family members. In this case it may not be equated to a similar attempt, but the aggressors tried to dominate the victim and alter his sexuality through their brute force.

In many cases, the persecution is much more subtle. The gays are forced to break off their same sex relations and enter traditional nuptial bonds to fulfill their family and religious obligations and traverse a path of unending unhappy life. These are the dictates of the society. In fact John was a lucky that he lived in a somewhat secular urban location, inhabiting in a rustic ambiance surrounded  Islamic mullahs could have earned him fatwas or harsh social punishments too.

Lastly the law enforcers. Generally I have seen the worst atrocities against the sexual minorities have come from the police, the same who are supposed to offer protection and safety to the society. The general notion of the law enforcers is that the sexual minorities are morally degraded souls, who indulge in all sort of perverse activities from prostitution to drugs. John ran to a police station to save himself from those individuals he feared is a possible threat to his life. Instead the police accused him of being a MSM, pervert and drug abuser and handed him back to those who posed a grave danger to John’s existence.

The question obviously arises why did not police register a General Diary against John’s parents who were severely homophobic under any measurable yardstick ? Why was John denied the very basic legal right that he was entitled to? By what logic did the police release John back to his parents? Only reasoning I could find behind it that the police too endorsed the same attitude as John’s homophobic parents that his sexual orientation could be straightened out through aggressive physical torture and violence. This attitude of the law enforcers are not only obnoxious but even CRIMINAL. In any civilized nation this could have earned the police officials a dismissal from their sevice, but here in Bangladesh they will be hailed as the true morality minders of the sexually puritanical society, thanks to Section 377 A BPC.

Lastly John’s parents are threatening him with an eviction from the house, a tactic that John would give a greater priority to his survival pressures over sexuality. These attempts of enforcing a particular sexuality on an individual could be truely conceived as barbaric and brutal under the modern human rights norms.

I am in deeply concerned about John, all I could do is wish him safety and luck.

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Filed under Analysis of Homosexual Issues, Ashok DEB, Bangladesh persecution of Homosexuals, Islam and Homosexuality

Bangladeshi LGBT NGOs discusses over Section 377A BPC

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Submitted by Tanvir Alim ( Moderator of BoB )

Edited by Ashok DEB

2nd July, 2009

Today James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) of Brac University arranged a group discussion on Section 377 A BPC among prominent Bangladeshi LGBTI NGOs.The day itself is quite eventful as the Delhi High Court of neighbouring state India set a landmark judgement  by decriminalizing Homosexuality. This has raised some obvious hopes among the LGBTI defenders of our nation to seek out possible avenues for a repeal of a similar  Sodomy Law in Bangladesh. Todays meeting had specific proposals and agendas to build up  co-ordination and solidiarity between the groups representing diverse homosexual communities in the country.

But the purview of Section 377 A has a wider scope other than homosexuality. This Sodomy Law of Section 377 A proves to be the only deterrent in absence of any specific legalization against male rape, molestations or child abuse. Prominent Bangladeshi NGOs like Bandhu (BSWS) believes that repealing of Section 377 A will not end the violations against the sexual minorities. Infact the defunct Section 377 A is regularly utilised by the law enforcers and police to harass, torment and illegally detain the MSM and Hizrah community members.Thus educating the sexual minorities about their legal rights, creating awareness among the law enforcing authorities and the judiciary could mitigate the present ongoing persecution against these exposed communities.

At the seminar it was universally decided upon that definate legal action planfor a repeal of 377A should be taken in such a way that does not adversely impact or destroy any homosexual communities. Thus maintaining the coalition of LGBTI welfare NGOS is of utmost importance and priority. It was also marked that creating  media awareness about the existence of the Homosexual communities is more important at this stage compared to the challenging of  Section 377 A. Generally Bangladeshi sexual minorities remain highly closetted to avoid societal discmination or ridiculing. This invisibility has proved to be a major obstacle towards launching any viable rights movement for the sexual minorities. The very lack of visibility is comfortably certified by the Bangladeshi Government as ” Sexual Identity is not at all an issue in our country” (UNHCR June 2009).

Unlike India where the similar Sodomy Law was widely utilised by the Government to harass and convict AIDS prevention activists, the Section 377 A BPC is virtually defunct in Bangladesh. Infact Bangladesh has a very progressive AIDS and STD prevention policy and its advisory board even includes prominent social workers like Saleh Ahmed (Bandhu).  Section 377 A BPC has never been utilised to hamper any activities directed towards prevention of communicable diseases among the Homosexuals. Infact in 40 years of history of the nation there exists only a single case of conviction under 377 A exists (refer Ain O Salish Kendra report 2009).So at this moment sensitization against the defunct 377 A might backfire and we may wake up a sleeping giant.

One of the major recommendations from the discussion was to make combined efforts for media sensitization at local level as well as in the decision-making level. In the summary it was proposed that NGOs should more actively engage in conducting workshops on gender training , where sexuality should be included.This could prove to be an active measure to promote an awareness that Homosexuality is not perverse or unhealthy, but a natural human tendency as endorsed by the modern medical findings.

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Bangladesh signs a treaty equating Homosexuality to pedophillia

The United Nations

The United Nations

by Ashok DEB

On December 18, 2008, 66 Countries signed a historic statement presented in the General Assembly that affirmed that international human rights protections include sexual orientation and gender identity, condemning rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

On the very same day Syria read out a treaty in response to the  statement previously delivered by Argentina, claiming that there are no legal basis towards non-discrimination of the sexual minorities. This treaty had 57 signatories including Bangladesh, who denounced Homosexuality by equating it to Pedophilia.

In addition this treaty refers to Article 29 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights to enact laws to uphold the puritan morality and and public behavior by denouncing Homosexuality.

The treaty even hints that persecution and discriminatory legalisation against the sexual minorities should not be interferred by the International community as it falls under the Charter of sovereignty of States and priniciples of non intervention.

This is one of the strongest Homophobic statements I have encountered in recent times. I wonder how could Bangladesh which has a progressive AIDS and STD prevention program could become a signatory to this treaty


Response to SOGI Human Rights Statement, read by Syria – 18 Dec 2008

Mr. President,

I have the honor to make the following statement on behalf of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan*, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, St. Lucia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan*, Yemen, and Zimbabwe following the statement previously delivered by Argentina, on behalf of a group of member states on Human Rights and the so-called notions of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”.

On 10 December 2008, the human rights family celebrated the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and once again made an unequivocal commitment to the principles enshrined therein. On that august occasion, we reiterated that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing. There was also a universal acknowledgment that in no country or territory can it be claimed that all human rights have been fully realized at all times for all. Member states declared that the full realization of all human rights for all remains a challenge that they shall not shy away from its magnitude.

The principles of non-discrimination and equality are two faces of the same coin. They are indeed cross-cutting principles in the vast areas related to the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. Such principles are well-entrenched in the Charter of the United Nations and internationally-agreed human rights instruments, as they all reaffirm the faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of men and women without distinction.

Mr. President, in this context, we are seriously concerned at the attempt to introduce to the United Nations some notions that have no legal foundations in any international human rights instrument. We are even more disturbed at the attempt to focus on certain persons on the grounds of their sexual interests and behaviors, while ignoring that intolerance and discrimination regrettably exist in various parts of the world, be it on the basis of color, race, gender, or religion to mention only a few.

Our alarm does not merely stem from concern about the lack of legal grounds, or that the said statement delves into matters which fall essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of States counter to the commitment in the United Nations Charter to respect the sovereignty of States and the principle of non-intervention. More importantly, it arises owing to the ominous usage of those two notions. The notion of orientation spans a wide range of personal choices that expand way beyond the individual’s sexual interest in copulatory behavior with normal consenting adult human beings, thereby ushering in the social normalization and possibly the legitimization of many deplorable acts including pedophilia. The second is often suggested to attribute particular sexual interests or behaviors to genetic factors, a matter that has been scientifically rebuffed repeatedly.

Mr. President, we affirm that those two notions are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments. We believe that people are not inherently vulnerable but some individuals are made vulnerable due to the socio-economic setting that they live in. It follows that vulnerable individuals and groups are those women, children, elderly, peoples under foreign occupation, refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons, migrants, persons deprived of their liberty, and persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, who become vulnerable as a result inter alia of intolerance and discrimination against them.

We strongly deplore all forms of stereotyping, exclusion, stigmatization, prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence directed against peoples, communities and individuals on any ground whatsoever, wherever†they occur.

We also reaffirm Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the right of Member States to enact laws that meet “just requirements of morality, public order, and the general welfare in a democratic society”.

We recognize that the enumerated rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were codified in subsequent international legal instruments. We note with concern the attempts to create “new rights” or “new standards” by misinterpreting the Universal Declaration and international treaties to include such notions that were never articulated nor agreed by the general membership. These attempts undermine not only the intent of the drafters and the signatories to these human rights instruments, but also seriously jeopardize the entire international human rights framework.

We call upon all Member States to continue and step-up their efforts towards the total elimination of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

We also call upon all Member States to refrain from attempting to give priority to the rights of certain individuals, which could result in a positive discrimination on the expense of others’ rights and thus run in contradiction with the principles of non-discrimination and equality.

Mr. President, we urge all Member States, the United Nations system, and non-governmental organizations to continue to devote special attention and resources to protect the family as “the natural and fundamental group unit of society” in accordance with article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To conclude, Mr. President, we also urge all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to intensify their efforts to consolidate the commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of everyone on an equal footing without exception.

I would like to mention something that Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are not in the list. Thank you, Mr. President.

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Paris LGBT pays homage to the slain Israeli homosexuals

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By Ashok DEB

On 8th August, a week after the violent shooting of Tel Aviv which caused two deaths and severely injured fifteen persons, two demonstrations were held in Paris to mourn the victims.

The Centre LGBT Paris IDF arranged a peace meeting on 7.30 PM that day, which was overwhelmingly attended by prominent individuals who expressed their pain and grief towards this mindless carnage on Israeli homosexuals.

The Paris LGBT Center president, Christine Le Doaré, pronounced a short speech then asked for three minutes of silence.

The same evening around 9 PM a silent march was organised from Centre George Pompido to the Protestant Church in Rue du Archives, where the mourners lighted candles in the memory of the slain victims of Tel Aviv, Nir Kat and Liz Tarbishi

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The Delhi High Court verdict and its underlying implications

By Ashok DEB

The landmark Delhi High Court judgment of 2nd June on decriminalization of same sex behavior may trigger implementation of some massive path-breaking LGBTI rights in India. This is quite an achievement in a nation of over 1.2 billion, where Homosexuality is grossly perceived to be non- existent, deviant or highly pervert. Presently Nepal is the only SAARC nation to have recognized the non-normative genders and same sex unions. However, the Indian developments could ripple positive vibes to the neighboring states forcing them to re-think about the discriminatory laws against sexual minorities. The final point of the judgment reads the following:

“132. We declare that Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalizes consensual acts of adults in article 21 is violative of Articles of 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution. The provisions of Section 377 IPC will continue to govern non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non-vaginal sex involving the minors. By ADULT we mean who 18 years of age or is above. A person below 18 would be presumed not to be able to consent to a sexual act.

This clarification will hold till, of course the Parliament chooses to amend the law to effectuate the recommendation of the Law Commission of India in its 172nd Report which we believe can removes a great deal of confusion. Secondly, we clarify that our judgment will not result in re-opening of criminal cases involving section 377 IPC that have already finality. We allow the writ petition in the above terms.

CHIEF JUSTICE

JULY 2, 2009 S. MURALIDHAR”



The victory at the court has come nearly after a decade of hard fought contest. It all began when a group of Naz Foundation activists in Lucknow were charged with 377 A by the right wing BJP Government for distributing condoms and safe sex literature to MSM workers. In retaliation Naz Foundation filed a petition in the High Court directly challenging the constitutional validity of the law. The Sodomy Law Section 377 A had a much wider ambit beyond homosexuality. This law solely offered protection against the criminal violations of child abuse and male rape. So the petitioners requested the court to Read Down the law to its narrower interpretation, i.e., decriminalizing private consensual sexual relations between adults.

In 2004 the plea was dismissed by the court on the grounds of morality and prevailing societal norms. Subsequently the Supreme Court ruled that a PIL of such an importance could not be rejected solely on the grounds of PREVAILING MORAL NORMS alone. This allowed a re-appeal of the PIL against Section 377 A to be admitted for review once again. Obviously the British Era enactment Section 377 A was proving to be a major hindrance towards preventing HIV and venereal diseases among the MSM and Transsexual workers. Subsequently the movement got stronger with a coalition of 13 major NGOs, including some child protection organizations, voicing their concerns against the law in its present form. A breakthrough was finally achieved in 2008 when Delhi HC declassified homosexuality from the list of mental illness. Thus decriminalizing homosexuality gained momentum with the then Health Minister Ramadoss favoring legalization for same sex behavioral patterns.

Naz Activists celebrating the court victory

A careful look at the 105 page judgment reveals that the Sodomy Law has in fact been READ DOWN to the desired concise interpretation where it still continues to govern the non consensual and under-age sodomy acts while sparing adult consensual same sex behavior. Much confusion arises whether the newly modified law will be able to provide adequate protection to those who do not conform to prevailing definitions of gender identities, Hizras, representing the third sex being one of them. Other way on the positive note, the spirit of the decision goes much beyond solely decriminalizing Homosexuality. The judgment has rightly referred to the Article 15 of the Indian Constitution which prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex, race or religion. On 20th July the Supreme Court refused to put the Delhi High Court decision on hold, which implies that same sex couples would also be entitled to marital unions and even adoption of kids. If all of the High Court suggestions are adhered by the Law Ministry, it may give the Indian homosexuals their much coveted piece of anti-discrimination legalization.

However the Delhi HC jurisdiction is valid only within its territorial limits. Thus the 377A writ loses its relevance across other parts of India. However a similar PIL verdict on 377 A is awaited in Mumbai HC soon. In India the Court orders are not mandatorily legalized, rather it depends on the electoral policy of the ruling coalition to floor a new law in Parliament for approval. Few of the milestone court verdicts on inheritance, divorce, adoption and equal opportunities could not be tabled due to the apprehension that they threatened to sway chunks of vote bank support. Initially the Home Minister P. Chidambaram and the Union Law Minister Mr. Veerappa Moily gestured considerable support towards ending the 1860 British Era sodomy law. Later Mr. Moily started seesawing his stance over this issue after facing stiff criticism from the religious leaders.

Activists protest against the ruling to decriminalize gay sex in New Delhi on Sunday.

The legal battle is not all over yet, as Suresh Kausal, an astrologer has appealed against the decision. The concerned individual states that “if such abnormality is permitted, then tomorrow people might seek permission for having sex with animals”. Kaushal believes that decriminalizing homosexuality would increase the spread of HIV since “HIV virus is a result of unnatural sex”. Presently a delegation of Darul Uloom Deoband, All India Muslim Personal Board, Jama Masjid Imam and Islamic Peace Foundation are in discussion to chart out their future course of action pertaining to this ANTI-SHARIA issue. For the first time in the Nation’s history the Hindu right wingers of VHP, RSS seems to be uniting with the Muslim hardliners over the issue. The Catholic Church has reiterated that the Court order will not have any effect on their stance towards Homosexuality. The city of Delhi has experienced some severe anti-gay protests and subsequent rabid homophobic attacks by some fanatically aggressive organizations thereafter.

The Supreme Court has asked the Central government to take a definite stand on the issue. The Law Ministry plans to set up an advisory committee to carefully scrutinize the Court’s suggestions. The Government plans to table suitable amendments on Section 377 A IPC at the forthcoming Winter Session in the Parliament. Few distinct possibilities exist about the forthcoming legal reform.

Firstly, the Section 377 A could be read down as dictated by the Delhi HC, which will definitely blunt the massive brunt of the prevailing law.

Secondly, Section 377 A may be totally abolished and a set of new laws may be introduced to replace it. Section 377 A alone fails to cover all the aspects of sexual assaults experienced by the minor victims. For long the child protection activists have been demanding separate laws for child abuse. This time new enactments of protection against child abuse may be introduced by the Government. Similar legalizations could be also formulated for male rape.

Thirdly, new anti discriminatory laws could be proposed for sexual minorities, as directed by the Delhi High Court, which entitles them to the same rights and benefits enjoyed by a common Indian citizen.

The undying Indian struggle towards tolerance and equality

Many observers are skeptical whether any enactments on section 377 A would be tabled in the Parliament at all. The Section 377 A judgment has definitely stirred up the highly puritan Indian society. Laws could be perceived as a reflection of societal parameters. Irrespective of individuals’ personal sexual preference, the Indian society en masse prefers puritan laws in public. Very few governments have dared to implement laws that directly oppose popular public sentiments. Worse still, by declaring that Section 377 will be discussed only at the winter session, the Centre may be deliberately trying to push it at the back seat. Many of the sensitive issues have met the same fate, where the tabling were intentionally and repeatedly delayed till it lost the relevance or societal opinions softened.

Lastly, a favorable legalization not necessarily ensures an outright end of discrimination towards the sexual minorities since deep rooted Homophobia imbibes the Indian mindset. But having a legal aegis of recognition and decriminalization will definitely assist in creating conductive ambience for co-existence of the homo and hetero communities in future times to come.


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Training for Right’s Activists on Gender and Sexual Diversity by BoB

 

Submitted by Tanvir Alim

Edited by Ashok DEB

 

The Homosexual community in Bangladesh still remains closetted within the walls of virtual cyber space, which offers them with the much coveted anonymity along with few sporadic opportunities of intimate privacy. Till recently a few of these groups have undergone considerable metamorphosis to mature into Same Sex Rights Activism. Boys of Bangladesh (BoB) can be quoted as the best example of that.

Today BoB is actively engaged in building up a visible Gay community in Bangladesh. BoB members face quite a daunting challenge in assisting individuals towards accepting their sexuality and finally COMING OUT to their families.  However even those who decide to formally COME OUT, constrain themselves from any sorts of Rights activism being affected by the obvious phobia of societal marginalization and rejection. The dearth of quality activists has been adversely impairing the cultural and activism events of these LGBTI NGOs for quite a while.

To groom future activists and educate them with some much needed concepts of the richly diversified sexual and gender identities, Boys of Bangladesh have arranged a workshop named Training for Rights Activists on Gender and Sexual diversity. The program is scheduled to be of four months duration with regular fortnightly sessions. The training has commenced from 28 March and will continue till the end of July.

Presently the sessions are being conducted by Adnan Hussein, a well known researcher in sociology and social anthropology with a focus on gender and sexual diversity in Bangladesh.In the upcoming classes, guest lecturers are expected to contribute on certain specific topics in collaboration with in-house academics.Each training session is designed to deeply focus on certain particular subject areas related to gender diversities and queer activism cutting across from local to the international level .

The initial announcements of the training was posted across the BoB message board and was circulated to the different LGBTI organizations to attract candidates representing diverse social and gender backgrounds.  The applicants’ attributes and commitment towards LGBTI activism was properly screened before inducing them into the course. Presently the study group consists of delegates from prominent NGOs like Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Badhon Hijra Shangha, Shacheton Shilpi Samaj, as well as students with formal academic backgrounds and other interested participants.

These learning sessions provides the participants a unique opportunity of interaction and brainstorming while conceiving diverse viewpoints over the complex issues of gender identities and sexual orientation. The BoB management plans to award a Certificate to the attending participants at the end of the course.  It deserves a special mention that the course has been delivered absolutely free of cost to the attending delegates. Naripokkho has assisted with the necessary logistic support to make this training a SUCCESS.

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Tanvir Alim is a premier Gay Rights Activist and is associated with BoB Bangladesh.He is presently involved in gay community building and editing a quarterly publication of BoB

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Robert Badinter at the World Congress

 by Ashok DEB

Robert Badinter, the French senator,delivered a historic speech against the criminalisation of Homosexuality and same sex behavioural patterns.He vividly represented the persecution, discrimination,intolerance and antipathy towards the sexual minorities by the self proclaimed MORALLY PURITAN nations.His speech was greeted with massive  standing applauds.

 

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Robert Badinter (born 30 March 1928) is a high-profile French criminal lawyer , university professor and politician mainly known for his struggle against the death penalty. A member of the Socialist Party , he served as Minister of Justice and then President of Constitutional Council under François Mitterrand.He is currently a Senator for the Hauts-de-Seine département .

He continues his struggle against the death penalty in China and the United States of America, petitioning officials and militating in the World Congress against Death Penalty.

Source: wikipedia

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ARDHIS appeals Rama Yade for granting asylum to the persecuted sexual minorities

 

Idaho – World Day against the homophobia: ARDHIS appeals to Rama Yade on the right to asylum for the persecuted LGTBI individuals

 On December 18th, 2008, Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights,sent  a strong message to the United Nations by wondering: ” In the dawn of 21st century,how can we accept that persons are still chased, imprisoned, tortured and executed because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.She promoted the universal decriminalization of  homosexuality  which was one of the main missions of her mandate”.

THE ARDHIS  welcomes this commitment but would like to appeal to Rama Yade for  the granting of refugee’s status to those individuals who have undergone the persecutions in their home-country because of their sexual orientation or  gender identity.

ARDHIS is happy that over the last one year, refugee status has been granted to applicants from Bangladesh, Uganda,Tanzania,  Senegal,  Mauritania, Russia, fCameroon and Kenya.But the organisation  points out that the asylum pleas of the LGBTI individuals is virtually never approved by the OFPRA during their  initial demand but mainly after  subsequent appeals in front of the CNDA.

THE ARDHIS has deep concerns and regrets that a substantial number of agents is not trained or informed about the specificity of applications for LGBT asylum.Thus many of the LGBT Asylum please are harshly turned down and the refuge seeking sexual minorities are treated with firm prejudices.

Graver still the ARDHIS is anxious to indicate that certain sections of the jury of  CNDA have an openly homophobic attitude.Homophobic comments were held in particular by a President of the Court against an Afghan last February.

At the same time, the ARDHIS condemns the difficulties of accessing the temporary authorization of stay and the social securities particularly the accommodation. Without papers, money and  accommodation, the everyday life of a persecuted Homosexual is transformed into a ceaseless fight in a country where they came to look for protection!

Finally, along with the numerous associations in defence of human rights, the ARDHIS condemns the list of countries described as ” of  safe origin “ which violates the agreement of the Agreement of Geneva in nondiscrimination of the asylum seekers according to their country of origin.

Thomas,President of Ardhis,at the right side

Ardhis also condemns the list of these following countries where the homosexuality is always considered as illegal: Bosnie-Herzegovine, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mauritiana, India,Mali,Senegal,Mongolia and Tanzania.As a result, the ARDHIS asks insistently for the withdrawal of these countries from the list of nations designated as  ” of safe origin“The organisation also demands the implementation of a training program for the agents of the OFPRA, which is indispensable for raising an awareness  about the specificity of the asylum seekers because of persecution connected to the sexual orientation or gender identity

Paris,May 2009

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This information was forwarded to me from the message board of Ardhis ( French NGO  working for the asylum rights of persecuted LGBTI individuals). The orginal text was in French, I have done some necessary editing and rephrasing of the English machine translation.This article is particularly of relevance to the LGBTI movement in Bangladesh as quite a few asylum cases of persecuted Bangladeshi Homosexuals have been granted by the French Government.I have tried to contact those indivuals for documenting human rights violation against them.But ALL of them decided to remain closetted for the fear of being ridiculed and discriminated  by the Immigrant Bangladeshi community in France. -  Ashok DEB

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