Bangladesh’s first lesbian comic has been launched to ‘address the silence and taboo around gender and sexuality’ in the Muslim-majority country.
Several hundred people attended the launch at the British Council in Dhaka on Saturday (5 September), although entry was carefully scrutinized for fear of protesters.
The comic was developed as an advocacy material the country’s largest LGBTI group, Boys of Bangladesh (BoB).
Heroine Dhee falls in love with another girl and, facing intense pressure to conform, asks readers whether she should commit suicide, marry a man to please her family, flee the country or stay and follow her heart.
‘The Bangla word “Dhee” means intellect, knowledge, wisdom, cognition or comprehension. Dhee makes human beings curious, innovate and seek out the unknown,’ BoB said in a press release.
‘When knowledge merges with our human instinct of compassion, we simply become better human beings.’
The comic will handed out at LGBTI rights seminars and is part of a 14-month project undertaken by BoB to advance the LGBT movement in Bangladesh.
Gay sex is a crime in the South Asian country and is punishable by up to life imprisonment, although prosecutions are rare.
A 2014 survey found that more than half of LGBTI Bangladeshis live in constant of fear being outed, but the community is slowly becoming increasingly more visible.