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Bangladesh LGBT activists call for repeal of gay sex laws

Bangladesh LGBT activists call for repeal of gay sex laws

LGBT rights advocacy group launches petition urging the President to act


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LGBT rights advocacy group JusticeMakers Bangladesh has launched a petition calling on the President to immediately decriminalize gay sex in the South Asian country.

Protesters gathered at the Bangladeshi High Commission in London in 2018 to demand action from Bangladeshi authorities who investigated the 2016 murders of prominent LGBT activists. (Photo courtesy of Riaz Osmani)
Protesters gathered at the Bangladeshi High Commission in London in 2018 to demand action from Bangladeshi authorities who investigated the 2016 murders of prominent LGBT activists. (Photo courtesy of Riaz Osmani)

 

In a historic move, human rights group JusticeMakers Bangladesh has launched an urgent call for the decriminalization of homosexuality in the country. The organization has petitioned the Honourable President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Mohammed Shahabuddin to repeal Section 377 of the Bangladesh Penal Code, which criminalizes consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex.

Under the Bangladesh constitution, the President has the power to pass laws by ordinance when Parliament is not sitting. However any such law would have to be approved by Parliament when it meets again.

JusticeMakers Bangladesh has launched an online petition on Change.org calling for the repeal, and is inviting anyone to sign it.

According to the petition, Section 377 is discriminatory and violates the human rights of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+). The law has resulted in negative stereotypes and attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community in Bangladesh, leading to murder, rape, harassment, arrest, physical assault, and persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Repealing Section 377 would demonstrate that discrimination and persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity are unacceptable in a modern and progressive society. It would also provide legal protection to individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ and allow them to live without fear of harassment or arrest.

JusticeMakers Bangladesh is urging Shahabuddin to take immediate action to decriminalize homosexuality in Bangladesh and protect individuals from discrimination and persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The organization is also calling on individuals, groups, and organizations in Bangladesh and around the world to support and sign the petition, ensuring the fundamental human rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Bangladesh.

Advocate Shahanur Islam, founder and secretary-general of JusticeMakers Bangladesh, has emphasized the importance of treating all individuals equally under the law, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Berlin Pride 2023. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

Many of the states in South Asia inherited laws that criminalize gay sex from British colonial authorities, and retained them after gaining independence. However, several states in the region have recently struck these laws from their codes.

Nepal repealed its sodomy law in 2007, India‘s Supreme Court struck down its sodomy law in 2018, and Bhutan repealed its sodomy law in 2021. A bill to repeal Sri Lanka‘s sodomy law is pending in the Sri Lanka parliament, and it was recently given approval by the country’s Supreme Court.

Nepal and India’s Supreme Courts have also recently heard cases seeking recognition of same-sex marriage, with the Nepal court urging the government to pass a law to recognize it.

Gay sex also remains criminalized in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Maldives.

Sign the petition here.

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