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Bangladesh: Lesbian couple arrested, risks life in jail

Shibronty Roy Puja and Sanjida Akter (Photo courtesy of MediaTimes)
Shibronty Roy Puja and Sanjida Akter (Photo courtesy of MediaTimes)

Gay Star News reports:

A Bangladesh lesbian couple is being threatened with life imprisonment for ‘marrying’ in secret.

Shibronty Roy Puja, a 16-year-old Hindu, and Sanjida Akter, 21-year-old Muslim, were arrested in Dhaka on 23 July.

The two girls had run away from the Pirojpur district, where they both lived, last week to the Bangladeshi capital.

According to local media, Akter had been tutoring Puja. It was only recently they realized their feelings for each other and decided to marry. …

[Puja] said the couple had married according to Hindu law, having exchanged garlands of flowers.

Under laws of Bangladesh, same-sex relations are punishable by up to a life sentence.

An LGBT activist commented that the ritual of exchanging garlands has no legal standing, although it is a tradition shared by Hindus and Muslims.

The two women were apparently arrested for allegedly violating a law against same-sex relations, even though there was no evidence that they had in fact broken that law.

Asia News added, “In Bangladesh, people belonging to the LGBT community (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) range between 1.6 and 4.8 million. They are not recognized and receive no form of social, religious or legal support and are often victims of persecution.”

For more information, read the full Gay Star News article “Bangladesh lesbian couple threatened with life in jail for getting married.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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