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Bangladesh newspaper calls for legalization of gay relationships

The Dhaka Tribune has called for the repeal of Bangladesh’s colonial era sodomy laws just weeks after a lesbian couple were broken up by police
Dhaka's Kamalapur Railway Station
Photo by Priynaka Ali

Bangladesh’s Dhaka Tribune has used an editorial to call for the repeal of the country’s Section 377 anti-sodomy law in the conservative majority Muslim nation.

‘Fear of persecution forces LGBT people to hide their sexuality,’ the editorial reads, ‘More importantly, this law reinforces a societal attitude that marginalizes and stigmatizes those who are attracted to others of the same sex, and is unnecessarily punitive.’

‘We understand that in a conservative and traditional country, such as Bangladesh, many may have deep-seated religious or other objections to homosexuality. We do not seek to legislate tolerance or approval of homosexuality. People are entitled to their beliefs and their moral principles.

‘However, we do believe that even most people, who object to homosexuality, do not want to see people put in jail for it, do not want the state to waste its resources treating it as a crime, and do not want to create an environment that allows for persecution and immiseration of homosexuals.

‘We believe that the well-meaning citizenry of Bangladesh, whatever their feelings about homosexuality, would agree that everyone has the right to live his or her life without fear, and that nothing is gained by making people a target for persecution.

‘Decriminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults would be a good first step to ensuring the security of homosexuals from those who prey on the vulnerable, and surely this is something we can all agree is desirable.’

Bangladesh’s Section 377 law is a colonial hangover from when it was part of British India and states, ‘whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description [that is, hard labor or simple] for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.’

The editorial comes just weeks after a case where a 22-year-old Muslim Bangladeshi girl eloped with her 16-year old Hindu girlfriend scandalized Bangladesh after the younger girl’s father reported her as being abducted.

‘We detained them in a house they rented and were stunned to discover this is a lesbian case,’ Lieutenant Sazzad Raihan told Reuters earlier in August.

‘Both told us that they love each other. They fled their homes in Pirojpur district to start a family in Dhaka. [The younger girl] told us that they were married under Hindu traditions at their home the previous night.’

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