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First-ever Bangladesh report finds 100s of victims of anti-LGBTQI+ violence

First-ever Bangladesh report finds 100s of victims of anti-LGBTQI+ violence

Abuses include killings, extortion, kidnappings, attempts at forced conversion

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Cover of Bangladesh human rights report for 2022
Cover of Bangladesh human rights report for 2022

A new report on anti-LGBTQI+ violence documented a total of 51 incidents with 204 victims last year in Bangladesh. The incidents included killings, physical assaults, psychological abuse, suicides, job suspensions, kidnappings, detainments, harassment, ransom, and extortion, fabrication of cases, arrests, forced marriages, blackmail and attempts at forced conversions.

The report — the first of its kind in Bangladesh — was compiled by the human rights  group JusticeMakers Bangladesh (JMBD) and published by the affiliated organization JusticeMakers Bangladesh in France (JMBF).

It provides a stark portrayal of pervasive discrimination and violence against sexual minority groups, stated advocate Shahanur Islam, founder / secretary general of JMBD and founder / president of JMBF. His organizations have a solemn obligation to confront and rectify the injustices that plague the LGBTQI+ community in Bangladesh, he said.

It is the responsibility of policymakers, legislators, civil society entities, and community leaders in Bangladesh to effect positive change, he added.

The report found that the vast majority of victims were trans. Of the 204 victims, 18 were lesbians, 13 were gay mens, and 173 were transgender people.

The actual number of incidents may be higher, as many violations go unreported due to social unacceptability of victims and abuses that occurred in private — in homes, offices, educational institutions, and workplaces.

The report cites violent incidents that led to:

  • 11 deaths.
  • 7 suicides.
  • 3 attempted suicides.
  • 16 physical assaults on a total of 148 victims.
  • 6 abductions of a total of 9 people.
  • 4 incidents in which a total of 10 people were detained by powerful local groups or police.
  • 9 incidents of physical and psychological harassment of 17 victims.
  • 5 people held for ransom, plus 2 held and blackmailed.
  • 9 incidents in which a total of 17 LGBTQI+ people face false accusations and fabricated cases.

Three incidents led to the suspension of three teachers from their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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The majority of the incidents occurred in the Dhaka area, followed by Chittagong and Rajshahi.

In addition, the report explores the impacts and consequences of violence against LGBTQI+ individuals, ranging from physical injuries and health complications to increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), traumatic brain injuries, and long-term health consequences. The psychological toll is evident in the form of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even suicidal ideation, the report states.

In addition to the documented incidents, the report notes that LGBTQI+ individuals in Bangladesh encounter discrimination and violence in various aspects of life, including education, employment, healthcare, and housing. The criminalization of consensual same-sex activities under Section 377 of the Penal Code leaves them vulnerable to legal persecution and abuse.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations aimed at addressing violence, including legal reforms, policy initiatives, advocacy and awareness campaigns, education and training, establishment of support systems and safe spaces, collaboration and partnerships, and international cooperation.

For the full report, visit this link.

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