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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Filed under International - Persecution of Homosexuals, Media-International

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

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:


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

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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Filed under International - Persecution of Homosexuals, International - Policies and Declaration

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

Crossposted from Sakyani Message board

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




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Filed under Bangladesh Lesbian Issues

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.


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


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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


Crossposted from ILGA website

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

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

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Filed under International - Persecution of Homosexuals, International - Policies and Declaration, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-International

Laila Hijra passes away

Crossposted from the Bideshis Blog.

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