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gayBabu and Arif have been friends from childhood. They went to school together, played on the same cricket team and had no secrets – except one, but only until recently. While they were out having phuchkas at a street stand somewhere in Dhaka, Arif suddenly slipped into an awkward silence for a couple of seconds.

“Babu, shon, toke amarkichubolar ache… Listen, I want to tell you something…”

“What is it, dosto?”

“I haven’t been fully honest with you… Remember when I told you that I really like that girl? That wasn’t quite true. It’s actually her brother I like. I am gay.”

Babu, shocked at the unexpected confession and not quite sure how to respond, got up and walked away. No matter how often Arif tried to call Babu in the following days, there was no response. Six months went by until Arif finally got a call back from Babu. Today, after many evenings of long talks, they are best friends again. Babu realised that Arif being gay does not take away anything from the childhood memories they share and the good times they experienced together. Babu learned to accept Arif for who he is – his closest friend… who happens to be gay.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people are our brothers and sisters, our friends, our neighbours, our teachers and our colleagues. Homosexuality and bisexuality have been part of every society and every culture, at every point in human history, and have also been found in a wide range of non-human animal species. Different surveys around the world have found that between one and ten out of 100 people are sexually or romantically attracted to members of the same sex. Using the lower end of this range, we find that a minimum of 15 lakh people in Bangladesh are homosexual or bisexual. Despite this large number – which is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Qatar and could actually be up to ten times as high – LGB people are an invisible minority.

Many face discrimination at school, university and their workplace, are denied access to health care and justice and, being torn between fear, confusion and guilt, find little support from family members and friends. Section 377 of the Bangladesh Penal Code makes same-sex intercourse a crime punishable by imprisonment for life. Consequently, only few are open about their sexual orientation, while most are forced to live a life of secrecy and lies, conformed to bigotry, misguided notions of honour and caricatures of justice and morality. With heterosexual marriage still being considered a woman’s nirvana, the level of tolerance for lesbian women is particularly low – they are doubly marginalised.

In 2002, the Bandhu Social Welfare Society (BSWS), the largest association working with men who have sex with men (MSM) in Bangladesh, surveyed 124 self-identified kothis, feminine homosexual or bisexual men and arguably the most visual part of the local LGB community. One in two respondents stated that he had been the victim of harassment at school or college. Three in four respondents who told their relatives about their sexual orientation stated that “their family had reacted negatively with beatings, forced marriage, disinheritance, throwing [them] […] out of the house, [or] taking them to doctors for curing them of homosexuality […].” Many had been sexually abused, raped or harassed by law enforcement agents, mastaans (local thugs), friends and family. Twenty-nine of the 80 respondents who reported harassment by law enforcement agents told BSWS that police officers had sexually assaulted or raped them. The others talked about beatings, extortion of money, obstruction of movement, threats and blackmail. Men in “Mymensingh, Dhaka, and Sylhet reported […][that they had been] rounded up, […] taken either to police barracks or the police post and raped by groups of policemen. Such forced sex was always reported as being unsafe […] and often results in serious physical injury like a ruptured rectum, internal haemorrhage, etc.” A 2003 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report shows that these incidences are not unusual but follow a pattern of violence against LGB people in Bangladesh.

The endemic homophobia in Bangladesh also has a negative impact on the mental health and well-being of LGB people. A recent study of 102 homosexual men conducted by University of Dhaka professor Muhammad Kamruzzaman Mozumder et al. found that 32% of these men had a history of suicide attempt, while 47% reported that they had considered committing suicide at least once.

During a visit to Dhaka in December 2011, I met up with Mamun (not his real name) and Shakhawat. Mamun is a 23-year-old student, Shakhawat a 26-year-old journalist. Both identify themselves as gay men.

Mamun - web sizeMamun describes accepting that he is gay as “the hardest thing [he] ever did.” When he first felt physically attracted to other boys at the age of 13, he thought there was something wrong with him and hoped it would change. When it did not change, he thought he would just marry and hide his sexual orientation for the rest of his life. Then he started doing research on homosexuality on the internet and found that it is accepted and considered normal in other parts of the world. It took him another six years to fully accept that he is gay. Today, he thinks daily about leaving Bangladesh, pessimistic that attitudes towards LGB people will change within his lifetime. “I love my country and my family but I want to live a normal and free life. I don’t want to live a life full of lies. I will never live a straight life. I would rather stay single for the rest of my life – I do not want to destroy the life of a girl.” And even though he considers his parents to be relatively liberal, he is afraid that the day might come when he has to choose between them and living an authentic and dignified life.

Shakhawat - web size (1)Shakhawat felt romantically attracted towards men for as long as he can remember. Living apart from his family from an early age, he found support in Dhaka’s gay scene. He became a member of Boys of Bangladesh (BoB), a platform for gay men, and learned a great deal about the psychology and politics of sexual orientation. Shakhawat has been in a steady and committed relationship with another man for four years. He wants to stay in Bangladesh to raise awareness for LGB issues.

After returning to the United States, I got in touch with 23-year-old BBA student Farheena (not her real name) through a Bangladeshi online forum. She has known that she likes girls from early childhood and identifies herself as a lesbian woman. Fearing that her parents might disown her, she has not come out to them yet and keeps her current relationship with another woman a secret. Unlike Shakhawat, she has not been able to find a platform for people who share her sexual orientation that she could turn to for support. Farheena told me that there is more pressure to get married early on women than there is on men. “If I do get pressurised into marrying a guy, I may just commit suicide. I would rather be dead than being someone I am not.” She thinks about moving out of the country after she graduates, hoping to be able to be who she is elsewhere.

For all of them, the internet has been an invaluable source of support and advice, and played a significant role in their acceptance of who they are. Their advice, in particular to LGB youth, is to use the internet to get as much quality information as possible – great starting points are itgetsbetter.org, tiny.cc/lgb-bd and Wikipedia –, and to connect with other LGB people. Unfortunately, access to the internet is still a class-privilege in Bangladesh and, hence, only available to some.

Sexual orientation is neither, as sometimes mistakenly assumed, “a choice” nor “a disease”, but a normal aspect of human sexuality. Homosexual relationships, just like relationships between men and women, are natural and healthy forms of human bonding. A person’s sexual orientation is part of who that person is, and everybody deserves to be respected for who they are. LGB people, hence, do not demand special rights but the recognition of their human rights. Cultural or religious norms that disfavour homosexuality no more justify discrimination against LGB people than norms of this kind can justify racism or sexism. Bullying and harassment, denying LGB people equal opportunities and respect, or prosecuting citizens for who they are is neither pious nor cultured but immoral.

Sex between consenting adults is an inherently private matter and should not be regulated by the government of a society that values tolerance and respect, yet Section 377 does exactly that. Section 377 contradicts the fundamental principles of dignity and equality, and violates international human rights law. It reinforces social stigma, encourages wrongful discrimination, undermines public health efforts and is based on nothing more than prejudice. A report published by the Bangladesh Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs states that Section 377 “violates [the] constitutionally protected right to privacy under the expanded definition of right to life and personal liberty […].” Supreme Court Advocate Sara Hossain further sees Section 377 in conflict with the anti-discrimination clause and the right to equality before the law guaranteed by the Constitution of Bangladesh.

Even though Section 377 has rarely been used, it is for the LGB community what the sword was for Damocles and we should not wait until the bigoted and the intolerant discover it as a tool of repression against an unpopular minority. Repealing Section 377 is an integral step in the development of Bangladesh as a free and democratic nation. A repeal would make it possible for LGB people who are victims of rape to make a complaint without putting themselves at risk of prosecution, and seize a weapon from police that is systematically used to harass, abuse and blackmail sexual minorities. Even though Shakhawat is not afraid of being prosecuted, he is still a criminal in the eyes of the state – “and it doesn’t feel nice.” As an LGB rights advocate, he believes that a repeal of Section 377 “would give the LGBT community better visibility by making it easier for people to come out.”

Farheena, Mamun, Shakhawat and other LGB people deserve our attention and support. While the LGB community must form part of the leadership in the struggle against bigotry and injustice, it is the moral responsibility of all of us to add our voices and embrace tolerance and respect for the equal worth of all people.

Rainer Ebert is a philosophy student at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

195 Responses to “Bangladesh’s invisible minority”

  1. dikshunnopur

    We are standing in our way towards progress if we continue such repressive thoughts and deny the existence of sexual minorities in our society. Our lack of tolerance towards diverse races, religions and sexualities is what makes the society harbour all sorts of perversions blossom under the mask of the so-called “sanctity”. Those who try to claim that homosexuality is a “sickness” need to open their eyes and accept the statistical, historical and biological facts that the entire world (even our neighbouring nations) have accepted.

    Congratulations to bdnews24.com for initiating this dialogue in the public sphere and thanks to Rainer Ebert for his article.

  2. Alex

    If your father was gay how your birth would have taken place and how would you write this article?
    If every people turns to gay, there will be no human being. This is enough reason to say that being gay is being sick. Gay and lesbians are not mentally fit, they need treatment.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Alex, if your father had chosen not to have children, you could not have written this comment. So what? That doesn’t make people who decide not to have children “sick”. Also, you don’t need to worry about the future of humanity. The likelihood of everybody on earth being gay/lesbian at a particular point in time is practically zero.

      On an average, only between one and ten percent of a population are homosexual or bisexual. Finally, gay and lesbian do not need treatment since homosexuality is not a disease.

      • Sarah Saberi

        Please spare us, don’t try to implement your ideology in our society. Better go back to home country, try to pay back them.

        Your overall activity has been marked as “against our society”, stop those.

      • Sarah Saberi

        Your all comments on this thread, are like “Crying Baby”.

      • Nakib Haider

        Sarah Saberi – are you and your gang the sole representative of Bangladeshi society? Bangladesh is nobody’s “baaper taluk”. I am a Bangladeshi and I think gay people must have proper human rights.

        Before you show someone like Rainer Ebert the door, it makes me laugh for two reasons. First, this is not your house. And second, you have not walked in his shoes. “You gotta pay your dues before you shred with the big dogs.”

      • Sarah Saberi

        See, it’s my country “Amar Bangladesh”. It’s my “baaper taluk”

        We have a small gang, don’t force me to make a bigger gang. We are volunteers to save our society, it’s our civic duty. We want to make better society. Each and every citizen is bound to work as volunteers.

        Whatever your argument is, it’s still a criminal activity.

      • Nakib Haider Protik

        This is in reply to Sarah Saberi’s (SS) last comment. For some reason the reply button has been deactivated on the comment itself, but I had to reply.

        “See, it’s my country “Amar Bangladesh”. It’s my “baaper taluk”” – SS

        This is our country. Everyone has a say. This is also everyone’s world. So it is nobody’s “baaper taluk”.

        “We have a small gang, don’t force me to make a bigger gang. We are volunteers to save our society, it’s our civic duty. We want to make better society. Each and every citizen is bound to work as volunteers.” -SS

        There is no universal consensus on “goodness”. I don’t care about your group – be it small or big. Your threats are of no use on an online forum. “Paltan Moydan” might be more suited for that. I, for one, don’t need your service. “Better society” has not been define uniquely. Mindless rhetoric bears no value in a debate.

        “Whatever your argument is, it’s still a criminal activity.” – SS

        Just because the Government of Bangladesh thinks it is a criminal activity does not necessarily mean that it is a “bad” thing to do. While these people are subject to the law of the land, our appeal is to repeal the law since we deem it a violation of human rights. If scientific data and humanitarian appeal are not good enough reasoning for you, there is no point debating. Of course you have the right to do your “waaj-nasihat” anywhere, but not everyone is a mindless drone or a corporate puppet.

    • James Riddle

      I am a gay man, I got married under pressure to conform. I did what you say, pretend I liked women sexually. The result was a very frustrated wife.

      How does that make me good?

      I didn’t want to be gay, no more than straight men want to be straight. You just are. If you are not sexually interested in ladies it is very hard to do your duty.

      Believe me even without queer-bashers and stupid laws left over from the Colonial days it is hard to be gay, it would never be someone’s choice. The population of western Europe has not ground to a halt because of gay marriages and changes in law and attitude.

      You know many gay people personally, they just dare not tell you. And their lives and their wives’ lives are miserable. How is that better that than being open about who you are and loving someone who loves you.

      There are many gay human beings and gay animals too, despite that the population has increased beyond our ability to feed everyone. I can’t see that taking a small percent out of the reproduction industry is a bad thing.

      • Anika

        Hi James,

        I am Anika and I am 22 and gay. I recently decided to tell my best friend about it and she accepted it without even a slight shrug of disgust.

        But now, it’s time for me to get married and on the verge of breaking down psychologically. I want to tell my parents so that I do not end up in an unhappy marriage.

        I wish I knew what to do.

        Thanks to this article, I just know I am not alone.

    • Animesh

      Wt u have to say about those stright male people who are impotent,suffring frm sexual diseases wt u hv to say abt those females who r barren can’t produce babies ???

      There is smthng called Love also producing babies is secondary bt nt the priority of humans.Humans r created to spread Love

  3. krantik roy

    orko on January 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm
    >It’s really worrying for our society. People have started to follow and influenced by Western culture and practise. We should strongly resist it.

    And we should stop using the internet – a western invention!!! And that includes Facebook also! Right?

    I am absolutely shocked by the extreme prejudice expressed here against the gay and lesbian community. It is a shame that Bangladeshi law still stipulates punishment for gays and lesbians. As for the vitriol against Rainer Ebert, remember that Bangladeshis expect (and get) tolerance in the outside world, they should have the courtesy to reciprocate it.

    During the course of past three decades, more and more Bangladeshis identify Bangladesh as a Muslim nation. This makes me feel disenfranchised. As a part of the disenfranchised minority, I sympathize with other disenfranchised groups such as gays/lesbians.

    • Muni

      Gay people have been around for centuries. It is no way a Western ideology, it is a part of every culture and always has been. In Africa, North and South American and Asia there are gay people. Only now with the infulence of Western culture have men and women decided they do not want to live a lie and come out as being gay.

      • Sarah Saberi

        Your behavior is extremely valuable in dealing with Bangladeshi brothers and friends and also with other country too. The image of your country is in your hands so take its pride, name and image beyond the sky. Work with sincerity and dedication to let your country be proud at you.

  4. krantik roy

    It’s really disheartening to see the amount of prejudice that was expressed in this forum against gays and lesbians. I think one of the reasons is that they do not know any gay or lesbian person, even though I suspect there are some hiding among their close friends. What bothers me is that these people claim some kind of moral superiority while exhibiting extreme intolerance to a large segment of the society who is victim of an unjust ancient law. Gays and lesbians do not claim special treatment; they simply want the same laws that are applicable to the rest of the population. This is an important issue of our time and I commend Rainer Ebert and bdnews24.com for highlighting it. Needless to say, I am absolutely shocked at the vitriol directed against Rainer Ebert. If Bangladeshis expect (and get) tolerance from the outside world, they should offer the same courtesy at home.

    I also find this interesting in the course of last two decades more Bangladeshis appear to claim Bangladesh to be a Muslim nation. As a Bangladeshi Hindu this makes me feel disenfranchised and sympathize more with the other disenfranchised communities, including the gay and lesbian community.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Thanks for sharing your perspective as a Bangladeshi Hindu, Krantik, and for your kind words. When Bangladesh was founded, dhormo niropekhota (secularism) was one of its fundamental principles. Under attack from different fractions within Bangladeshi society for decades, the future of this principle is now uncertain. I’m as worried about this as you are.

      • Sarah Saberi

        The community should live with harmony and unity, our unity is our strength as five fingers of one hand, as we are all children of Bangladesh a part from religion and cast. There should be no other interests instead the services of the community without any cast religious division or racism. Work should be done in a positive way with unity.

        So, don’t try to separate us.If you are still in this mood, we can’t achieve our goal. We have to fight for hunger, education, politics etc. as of now, your activity will only put us back! Hope you understand the fact!

    • Bangladeshi

      Mr Krantik Roy, please do not bring your “so-called” Hindu minority problem in this forum. You do not need to do so. This is boring.

      The problem is people’s perception on other’s sexual orientation. If people find that other’s sexual orientation is different, they start to resist. This is similar to our political parties’ problem e.g. BNP supporters do not like Awami League, and Awami Leaguers do not like BNP supporters. In fact the problem is our limitation for tolerance of other’s views.

      However, I feel over time and our continuous practice of democracy, we will learn and improve our tolerance level.

      However, I enjoyed Rainer Ebert’s write-up and the subject of the write-up.

  5. "Mamun" from the Article

    Hi all,
    It’s great to see how you all respond. Now I feel lucky that I have been born as a gay man in Bangladesh. If I were a straight guy, I would probably be as ignorant as you are. Many of you are saying, gay people have mental disorder, just because your religion says so. Not a single hater can show any scientific evidence that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

    “A person should not be said to have a mental illness unless the person’s actions substantially impair their ability to function in their work or personal life. Homosexuality does not impair one’s ability to function; it does not impair a person’s ability to fulfill their responsibilities at work, and does not prevent them from creating and maintaining meaningful and healthy personal relationships. Additionally, homosexuals are as psychologically healthy as heterosexuals. (Strickland, B.R. (1995)”

    Many of you are claiming there are no gay people in Bangladesh. If you don’t open your eyes you will never see one. First you must promise a non-violent way to communicate with them. Then they will speak up. Otherwise gay people have to remain silent and continue their life full of agony.

    I am requesting everyone to study a bit on topics regarding homosexuality. I am 100% sure most of you haven’t studied a bit on this topic, yet making ignorant and hateful speech. If you believe homosexuality is a mental disorder, try to prove so. Hating someone for his sexual orientation is no better than racism, sexism or any other forms of discrimination. If you think deep enough you will understand that no one in this society “choose” to live a life as homosexual.

    Now I believe that homosexuality will be socially accepted within my lifespan. 20-30 years from now I will proudly show this article and say that I am one of the first Bangladeshi guys who had the guts to speak (though anonymously), while most of us remained silent. And you will realise how wrong you were. How wrong your hatred was.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Dear Mamun,

      thank you once again for sharing your experiences. It was a pleasure meeting you in Dhaka, and your courage made a lasting impression on me.

      It is good to see that the many positive comments in this thread made you a bit more optimistic about the possibility of change in Bangladesh. I feel that you have the potential to play an important part in the struggle for LGB rights in Bangladesh.

      Please stay in touch.

      • Sarah Saberi

        Dear Rainer!!

        Voluntary work for the benefit of the community is very important, it gives you satisfaction of heart, I am involved in voluntary work since childhood, and will continue till my last breath.

      • Rainer Ebert

        Dear Sarah, I know that you do a lot for the underprivileged sections of Bangladeshi society, and I am grateful to you for that. Keep up the good work!

  6. Minar

    Those who made very strict comments about LGB people, I hope you all would be able to act just as you said in case your kids or brothers are found to be a part of LGB society.

    Affection and understanding can occur within any kind of combination.

    We all should respect that.

    Being a Muslim and making comments full of hatred is not something credible. (Just don’t want to say anymore to those who still do not get it)

    I thank bdnews24.com for publishing this article. After all, somebody had to take an initiative.

    • Rainer Ebert

      I think many of those who condemn homosexuality would eventually change their position if one of their children happened to be gay or lesbian. Sometimes people must go through personal experiences before they understand. I highly recommend Frank’s article that was published on bdnews.com on the same day on which my article above was published. At http://opinion.bdnews24.com/2012/01/24/gay-rights-a-father%E2%80%99s-perspective/, Frank tells us how he is dealing with the fact that his daughter is attracted to women.

      • Sarah Saberi

        Our aim and ambition should be to work for the benefit of the Bangladeshi community in a positive manner with unity as one members of a family as one nation. Our task is to boost the image of our beloved motherland. We should put all our efforts to achieve the goals we set as Bangladeshi for the greater good of our nation.

        Stay away please.

      • Urmila

        Sarah ,

        I fervently request you to see a therapist and undergo treatment as soon as possible .I am afraid you are suffering from xenophobia.

      • James Riddle

        What therapy changes someone’s sexuality?

        The simple answer is none.

        Sexuality can be fairly fluid, straight men in prison for instance, but as soon as they are back with their wives they return to ‘normal’.

        You can’t force a man to be sexually stimulated by someone he is not, it is how he is.

        It’s nothing to do with one country or another or any type of culture or religion. There are gay people in every country and society and always have been and always will be.

        What if it was genetic and forced marriages just spread genes that would otherwise die out by natural selection.

      • Abdullah Bin Rafsan

        I don’t think if my children become rapists or some other types of pervert, I will change my position on rape, incest or bestiality. I am going to be the first person to cut off their heads, Insha Allah.

        Go back to your own country and preach these there. If you come to my country, you do not preach against its laws and norms. Next time there might be legal consequences and permanent deportation.

      • Rainer Ebert

        I’ve always been welcome in Bangladesh. I have friends and family there, all of whom value tolerance and freedom as much as I do. That’s one reason why I am confident that Section 377 will be repealed and homosexuality will find acceptance in society.

        It is because of people like you who are capable of mentioning the name of god and cutting of the heads of their children in the same breath that others need to speak up.

      • Monna

        Your age not more then 30. You Mr. Rainer, are welcomed but not with bloody ideology. We are capable to make our own constitutions, advice not required.

  7. Khukie

    It’s sad that people react so violently about allowing others their own choice yet complain when they don’t get it themselves whatever the matter may be. It is also sad that other’s private matter can create more stir than situation of the poor women in even the legal brothels. It’s sad that what happens at the border to a poor Bangladeshi is downplayed and people are not as infuriated about that as simply a person’s personal choice.

    Are we really protesting and raising our voices against the right things when we say allowing people the freedom to be who they are is disturbing the peace of our country, “dirtying the country” etc. Should we not be raising our voices against all the atrocities that are actually happening in broad day light? The killings and murders, etc.

    How many were outraged at the murder of a two and a half year old child at the hospital found with bruising on her thighs. OH WAIT! HOW MANY EVEN KNOW ABOUT IT!

    This is article which doesn’t tell us to change whoever you are but let others be who they are! Is the message really to be crucified the way it is being?

  8. mustafa

    A good community can go viral if they have gay/lesbian in it, they are just against god, they love Satan in other words.

      • Sarah Saberi

        We are fine till now! So the lesson you tried to teach us is totally useless!

        We know about Satan and there moral! White is white and black is always black. Some can realize this, and some can’t!

      • Abdullah Bin Rafsan

        Sure, what a logic! Did God create rapists or serial killers?

      • Rainer Ebert

        Being a rapist is not part of who you are, being gay is. People choose to rape, being gay, on the other hand, is not a choice.

      • Sarah Saberi

        First of all I’m very much surprised!! Your energy mash-allah.

      • Sylvia

        Rainer’s comment reminds me about PAGANISM.no moral acts.Do just what you want.
        your comment and thought will lead those era.
        You need proper counselling.

  9. minority please

    Bangladesh is my motherland. As a society we are not very tolerant of the ones that do not fit the virtuous Islamic fabric. Islam being a religion of Peace, does not condone any violence against another of gods creation. All that being said, we live in the total opposite of that spectrum. Sex is a very accepted part of Bangladeshi society, and pretty openly talked about. It is only these mullah’s that make it such a dirty word. As a nation, we really need to look at the direction we need to be. Instead of pressuring all the minority groups in our country to assimilate to the cookie cutter image of a typical hat wearing Muslim, we need to celebrate our differences and the history of peaceful coexistance.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Islam, being a religion of peace, can do better than many of the Muslims who commented on my article want us to believe. I wish more Muslims would remind themselves of the universal standards of compassion that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has set for humanity and take a stance against intolerance and bigotry.

      • Sarah Saberi

        We are Muslim, your lesson is not needed. Don’t try to talk about such topic, which will hurt others.

        Your way of talking is not good enough. Our moral is our moral, which you can’t change.

        Your belief is yours, keep it within your drawing room.

      • Sylvia

        Don’t get so furious buddy.Let them just express what they think over it.It is unwise to lambaste any writer’s column.you can just suggest them.But moderately.;)

  10. thebossbd

    Good written article but my views are:

    1) It’s a person’s independent choice whether he wants to be gay or not. A state should nor interfere with personal choices where their is consent of the partners.

    2) But this is not a natural phenomena (means gays are born that way and blah blah blah..) so it should not be supported by laws and their should not be any law in a country that officially allows gay rights or allow gay marriages.

    • Rainer Ebert

      I’m happy you like my article, thebossbd!

      As you correctly say, a state should not interfere with the personal choices of people as long as all those affected consent. Therefore, Section 377 (which criminalizes same-sex sexual activity) needs to be repealed – the sooner, the better.

      LGB people are not demanding special rights or any other kind of special treatment. They just ask to be treated with the same respect as everybody else. Since heterosexual couples can marry, it would be unfair not to allow homosexual couples to marry, etc.

      • Sarah Saberi

        “Section 377” is our, what is your problem? Till now, you have spent plenty of time on LGB/Eid-ul-Adha. We can guess a foul play when we see one.

        Each & every country has its own constitution for the protection of its people, all are unique. We know what is good for us.

        You said “I love Bangladesh”, your overall activity do not support that statement.

      • Shahnoor Rabbani

        So after all this time you finally admit that the Section 377 is a problem. When you say we who exactly do you refer to? Are you trying to create divide already? Wasn’t that exactly what Rainer’s article opposed? Don’t know if Rainer loves Bangladesh or not as much as you do, but he’s certainly not narrow minded. Instead of trying to criticise Rainer why don’t you suggest something more productive. It’s exactly this type of counterproductive rants that ruins the image of our country to everyone else. And not being from Bangladesh Rainer has been able to do something which you haven’t – he’s been able to reach out to and communicate with a minority that is being discriminated against and he has been able to put it out in the public. You shouldn’t shun Rainer’s article but rather be embarrassed at the fact homosexuals are being vociferously mistreated, if you are Bangladeshi that is.

    • Riaz Osmani

      Homosexuality is NOT A CHOICE. It IS a natural phenomena among a small portion of the world’s population.

  11. Hussain M Elius

    Wow. Where do I even start… the stupidity is making my brain hurt.

    The only thing I can tell from the comments is that religion doesn’t seem to teach anyone tolerance for fellow human beings.

    Thumbs up for the well written article. I would’ve gone to write a longer reply, but I wouldn’t know where to start. :/

    • Rainer Ebert

      I’m glad you like my article, Hussain.

      I have many religious friends who are tolerant and open-minded people. On the other hand, I know people who are non-religious, intolerant and narrow-minded. Religion can be a great source of inspiration and genuine goodness. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be a great source of evil as well. Maybe it’s not less religion but just a little more humanity what people need to accept and respect homosexuality.

  12. afsan

    Homosexuality is a deviation since this is not what mainstream people do but doesn’t in any way affect the right of others. Like it or not, this is a fact.

    I believe and so does the world that paedophilia – having sex with children- is a crime and I believe that there are notable religious leaders who did it in the past.

    Do you condemn it? Have you condemned it? Will some Muslim please respond?

    • russel

      Hey, Afsan,
      How do you compare it with the then era of Muslim and modern era?
      Just ridiculous! Islam doesn’t allow to marry a girl who is not matured. Matured girls are allowed to be married off. And maturity depends on one’s physical and mental growth. I hope you get my point.

      • afsan

        Actually, I don’t get the point. Homosexuality was forbidden for reasons nobody explains and in ancient world where ignorance ruled. One guesses that one of the reasons for forbidding such unions is because they do not produce children. That is hardly an issue now.

        Pre-puberty marriages were known in those days. Even Aisha was around 6 years when she was married. Today such marriages would be considered criminal. This is what age and context is and society changes and so must prejudices.

        According to Islam marriage is halal after puberty which is why so many under 14 are given away in the rural areas where religious traditions are strong.

        The curious legal contradiction is that Bangladesh forbids marriage for girls before 18 in contempt of Islamic law.

        There is no reason or cause to forbid any form of sex between two consenting adults and no law such as the sodomy law has any chance in the court, one reason why it has been allowed to lapse without any charges in the last 50 years plus.

        If the West is sex obsessed no less obsessed are religious narratives. Sexual rights are now social rights that no longer require legal justification.

      • Rainer Ebert

        Thanks, Afsan. I think the most important point you made is that unexamined traditions and beliefs on their own do not justify anything.

        We need to encourage critical thinking, the rational evaluation of our own and others’ opinions and beliefs. We live in a pluralistic and increasingly globalized environment, in which different cultures and traditions, different beliefs and values meet. Critical thinking helps us to keep our minds open in this challenging environment and enables us to act thoughtfully. It stands for a strategy that offers us hope in “a world in which prejudices are assumed as premises, and loose reasonings pass current and are unchallenged until they beget some unpalatable conclusion.” (Fullerton) Besides love, only reason has the power to overcome prejudice. In a society, in which standards of reason are not held in high esteem, the opinion of the loudest or the most powerful will be unreflectively accepted. The result is a dangerous conformity that is poisonous to a lively democracy.

      • russel

        Mr. Afsan, I have one question for you.

        Do you believe in Allah’s miracle? If you reply “YES”, I won’t say anything else. If you reply “NO”, still I will say nothing.

        Won’t it be wise not to mix up that miracle period with modern era?

        May God help us to enlighten once more. Ameen.

      • Sylvia

        I think Afsan Chowdhury is just dumbfound.!!He won’t reply a single word. 😉

      • Abir

        I believe Afsan Chowdhury is talking utter nonsense. He mixed up culture with religion. He mentioned, “Even Aisha was around 6 years old when she was married.” Where did you find it from and what’s was the background of it, if it were true?

        “According to Islam marriage is halal after puberty which is why so many under 14 are given away in the rural areas where religious traditions are strong” What about India, other South Asian and third world countries? Are they all Muslims? Learn to differentiate between culture and religion before commenting!

  13. afsan

    One can be prejudiced or intolerant but one does need to have some basic ideas about the topic. Unfortunately, all that most people know is what religious books say which is hardly a reliable source of information anyway. Plus they were written in the 6th century or before when such issues were not known.

    This idea that society is threatened by sexuality is absurd and has no evidence at all. Many ancient societies were destroyed but none by sexuality but people like to say that because it’s part of the anxiety framework. While accepting their role in history and myth making, there is a need to understand the role of science in knowledge making rather than narratives of ancient myths.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Many of the critics in this thread did not address any of the arguments I present in my article. This is unfortunate, given that an informed and constructive dialog on the issue of LGB rights is badly needed.

  14. A A

    The vehemence of the feelings against gays and lesbians in our society is very high.

    Let us face reality; we are not the Netherlands where gays and lesbians walk the streets in all kinds of bizarre dresses.

    Let these people live in peace instead of bringing them to the fore front and face all kinds of discrimination. Let them practice their urges in the privacy of their bedrooms. This is also relevant for straight couples in our country. Sex is a very private thing in our society and should be kept as such.

    Maintaining the peace in the society is more important than any other thing.

    • GAY

      The act of sex is of course a private matter and should be practiced within a boundary. But talking about sex is absolutely not a private matter and it cannot be kept under the rug. The modern study of gender and sexuality suggests that gender expression and sexual orientation are integral part of every human being, hence they also play a crucial role in development of society/country. If we want a society based on equality, tolerance and freedom, we must be liberated from our state of hypocrisy. We must talk about sex, how it affects our individual life, our ideologies, our morality and ultimately the society. The patriarchal values upheld by the conservative part (as well as religion) are core to majority of the societal problems. Rape, teasing, divorce, broken family, violence against women, religious fatwas, child marriage, extra marital affairs and what not. More importantly, a sound sexual life is essential for every human being to enjoy the fullest blessing of the life.

      Sex education is a must for any society to develop but it is such a taboo subject here. If we had sex education, people would know there are terms called ‘gender expression’ and ‘sexual orientation’ and would be more tolerant to non-normative sexualities.

      As I said earlier, homosexuality is not all about having sex with the same gender…just like heterosexuality is not all about having sex with the opposite gender. Sexual act is just a manifestation of the attraction/love one feels for another. Besides sex, there are hundreds of ways a person expresses his/her emotional attachment for the other person. For example…going out, eating out, holding hands, socializing with other people, getting acknowledgement for their relationship, sharing with friends about their ups and downs, getting married, raising a family, taking care of each other financially, looking after each other…in a word…enjoying all the blessing of a fulfilling life. Why should gays and lesbians be devoid of enjoying all these when straight people take these privileges for granted?

      When I love someone, why can’t I share that feeling with a friend or family and be not called ‘sick’, ‘immoral’ or ‘criminal’? I also long for the same recognition and privileges.

      • Rainer Ebert

        Thank you for insightful comments. What you said strengthened my belief in the importance of education as well as an open and public discourse on sexuality.

    • Rainer Ebert

      The reason why we cannot stay silent when it comes to gay rights is the fact that gays and lesbians, contrary to what you say, cannot “live in peace” in Bangladeshi society. The government tries to regulate what they do in their bed rooms, they face discrimination at school, the workplace and elsewhere, and they are often the victims of violence and harassment. We need to talk about these blatant violations of human rights, and actively work towards more tolerance and understanding.

  15. Shame on bdnews24

    What utter non-sense! These sick people have destroyed the moral fabric of the western countries and are now trying to do the same in Muslim countries. Gays are not born, they are the result of the sick environment that they live in. Just because someone felt attracted to the same gender does not mean they have to act on it. Instead of giving their sick behaviour legitimacy, harshest punishment should be given to them like like Omar (radiallahuanhu), if they cannot control themselves.

    bdnews24.com should apologise to its readership for publishing this garbage. Next we will hear — people who are attracted to animals and children etc have rights and don’t deserve to be lashed and locked up.

    • Nakib Haider Protik

      Some extremely celebrated characters from history proudly expressed and acted on their attraction towards children. Read the books you defend so zealously and you will know.

      Spitting upward is a tricky business. When the wind is not in favour, the spit might fall back on you.

    • Jasim

      Would you mind explaining ‘sick environment’? Like what it actually means, how it is caused and how it also creates other ‘sick people’ like homosexuals?

      Also please explain, how you see homosexuality in parallel with bestiality and pedophilia?

    • Rainer Ebert

      I think you should apologize to all those LGB people who read your comment.

      People who are sexually attracted on children and act on this attraction cause real harm to children and violate their moral as well as legal rights. This is categorically different from the case of two people of the same sex engaging in consensual sexual activities.

    • labanya

      “Next we will hear — people who are attracted to animals and children etc have rights and don’t deserve to be lashed and locked up.”…..DISAGREE WITH YOU, cause gay people have sex with other gay people, there is a mutual understanding and both are willing. No one is forced to have sex in gay relationship.

      But in paedophilia the pervert forces the child to have sex, it’s the same case if someone have sex with animal. SO, being gay & being paedophile is not the same thing.

      And who are you to decide this article is ‘utter non-sense’? If you are straight, stay straight and let the gay people be gay. SIMPLE.

  16. TAWFIQ

    The matter of LGB people is not a sensitive issue, it does not demand any attention whatsoever from the nation or social point of view. It is a matter or topic of disgrace. If anybody says that LGB people are not made; they are born, they are lying. Such people are the ones who themselves are unable to control their evil desire.

    See, everyone has had some wrong wishes or desires in their life. But that does not mean that you have to succumb to those and try justifying those wrong wishes and do as your evil mind says. We are human beings, and we have the capability to think, identify the wrong and do what is right. This is what makes us human being. We are not animals; we do not have sexual acts wherever whenever we want, animals do that because they are animals. Animals don’t have the mind that we have, they don’t have the ability to judge the right and wrong.

    If anyone feels that he or she is not straight and can’t help him or herself; he/she is wrong. Don’t be so weak that there is nothing left to laud yourself as a human being. Many will talk about Islam and our society and blah blah. But remember, it has nothing to do with religion or society. It is with humanity. Human civilization would not be here as it is, if majority of human were LGB. Just remember, a gay, lesbian couple can’t bring a new life to earth. So if your parents were gay or lesbian, you wouldn’t have been here. So for your sake, and for the sake of mankind, stop being weak, stop being hypocrites by supporting LGB tendencies and be human.

    bdnews24.com should not publish articles like this. If bdnews says that they published such article for the sake of honest journalism, then please publish article that does not support LGB rights. As long as we are responsible towards our society we should help the homosexuals in finding ways to correct themselves. By supporting them, you will take part in paving the ways for their destruction. Because one day in their lives, they will understand that they were wrong and that day you guys who supported them will be cursed.

    • GAY

      Exactly my point…if my parents hadn’t given birth to me…I wouldn’t have existed! So if there is any wrong with my sexuality, blame my parents (or nature or God or whatever) for that. I didn’t CHOOSE to be gay. It doesn’t make sense why would I choose such an option knowing all the repercussions that I’d have to face!! Why would anybody want to be gay when religion, state, society, family…everything is against you!! So, don’t you think there must be a bigger reason behind that? Something that is beyond your/our control?

      All those straight (people having attraction for opposite sex) out there, if I ask you to be gay/lesbian, would you be able to? Would you be able to love someone of your gender? Most of you would say no…because that’s not what/how you feel. You love your opposite sex, you want to be physically intimate with him/her, you want to form a relationship, share your life, share joy and sorrow…that is your sexual orientation. The gay/lesbian people feel the same way too. It’s just not about sex!!

      As the article says…LGB people are a minority of any society. Majority are straight people. So why is this a threat for humanity? There are enough of you to keep the family tree growing. Besides, the world is already over burdened with so many people. Some of us will do well not to reproduce. May be that’s why homosexuality is nature’s own way to balance? Also, with the advancement of science, you really don’t need one guy and one girl to have sex to reproduce. Gays and lesbians are also equally capable of reproduction by a number of modern means.

      You are who you are…no one can make you gay or straight. So stop fearing that supporting LGB folks will make everyone gay. If you really want LGB population to stop growing…don’t let straight people have children. You stop having sex first!!!

      • Rainer Ebert

        Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. I think you did a good job at pointing out how absurd the idea that somebody would voluntarily choose to be gay really is. Some feel attracted to the opposite sex, some to both sexes, some to the same sex and some to none of the sexes – it is as it is, and we need to accept that as a fact of nature.

    • Rainer Ebert

      The continuing existence of the human species is not threatened by homosexuality, as LGB people make up only one to ten percent of society. Also, some homosexual couples do bring new life to earth. Lesbian couples, for example in the United States and the United Kingdom, frequently opt for artificial insemination.

      You are right when you’re saying that we can choose whether to engage in sex with members of the same sex. In general, however, I don’t see any good reason why LGB people should not exercise their right to a sexually healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

  17. Saquib

    Naujubillah! Bdnews24.com is a great news site. But it should not allow this kind of article on a Bangladeshi newspaper. If you are a Muslim and believe in Allah I think you should mend your ways and repent for the sins you have committed. We are not allowed to be gay or lesbians, it is strictly forbidden in the Quran. Ask for Help from Allah and he will show you the path.

    • Rainer Ebert

      In fact, there are some movements in Islam, such as the US-based Al-Fatiha Foundation, that accept homosexuality, consider it natural and work towards the acceptance of non-heterosexual love-relationships within the global Muslim community. Progressive Muslim scholars around the world argue that Qur’anic verses on homosexuality are obsolete in the context of modern society and point out that, while the Qur’an speaks out against homosexual lust, it is silent on homosexual love. Recently, Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle offered a detailed and insightful analysis of Islam’s categorization of homosexuality as a sin in Omid Safi (ed.), “Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism” (2003).

  18. Rashid

    Great article. Human rights should be upheld. There are a lot of people who are afraid of change but we need to move forward regardless. By the way, what’s so criminal about being gay? Are they robbing your home or raping your mother or sisters? Take off the blinds and welcome to the 21st century.

  19. Fassbinder

    These comments have been quite enlightening, especially in shedding some light on how my country people view homosexual lifestyles and their rights to reside in a safe and neutral space (which seems to be NONEXISTENT).

    No one CHOOSES to be heterosexual when they are born and I believe no one aligns themselves with homosexual modes of expression as well from birth. As a homosexual from birth, I can attest to the fact the difficult circumstances I happened to grew up in, since I came from a somewhat bourgeois family. Although all you people talk about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s Islamic indictments, I am a devout Muslim and I have not abandoned my religion due to my homosexual nature. I still believe I am a part of Islam even though Bangladesh society has excluded me from its premises. Therefore, the argument that homosexuals are not people, but animals is not even applicable, since Allah has not deemed it to be so as I continue my existence in America, which is frankly, what the people of Bangladesh are trying to emulate. Ha!

    Good job with the article. I hope to see more of these posted on bdnews24.com.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Thanks for your comment, Fassbinder! I don’t know whether you have seen it yet, but there is an interesting documentary on gay, lesbian, and transgender Muslims across the Muslim and Western worlds, part of which was filmed in Bangladesh. It’s called “A Jihad for Love” (2007) and I highly recommend it.

  20. Areef

    Dear Publisher,
    Please consider what you publish before you publish it. You have a family, if one of your family members acted this way, what would you do? Dog, cat or any other animals are not humans, yet even they don’t indulge in such practise! Don’t go against nature. The outcome will be very dangerous.

    Stop supporting such topics. I have seen some are supporting this article. Absolutely ridiculous! This is not even a subject to discuss. We are not talking about Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or any other religion, but something that is completely against humanity. My humble request to publisher, please remove this article, please!

    • Gias

      What makes you think that gays/lesbians/bisexuals are not part of any family? They are brothers, sisters, friends, etc. of you all and they are all around you. Because of your extreme hatred and prejudice that people don’t openly express their sexual orientation. May be someone in your own family is a victim of your ignorant hatred and living a life of untold miseries. Search with an embracing arm and I am sure you will find someone.

      Some are supportive, because some happen to be wiser.

    • Rainer Ebert

      According to biologist Bruce Bagemihl and others, studies have found homosexual behavior in close to 1500 species, ranging from primates to gut worms. Homosexuality is also a natural variant of human behavior and has been well-documented in many cultures throughout human history. Homosexuality is a human reality just like any other sexual orientation.

  21. Hasan

    Oh the same old rhetoric, it’s western, it’s a sin, it’s a disorder, against the nature…bla bla bla…just goes on to show how much work await us for this largely ignorant nation. Well, we can work to enlighten those who want to be, but how do you wake up someone who is pretending to sleep? I simply don’t understand how a person loving another person is a threat to entire humanity/religion/nature/tradition!

    In fact threats are those who use all these ill logics to justify their own prejudice, hatred and violence against a group of people for their benefits. I don’t go on to judge and prosecute you for how you make love to your partner in your privacy, whether you are having illicit affairs or have any clothes on your body or doing it in the missionary position or you are doing it for pure pleasure or for procreation purpose. And in the same way I don’t want you to poke nose into my private affairs. But you see that’s exactly what you are doing!

    By the way, homosexuality is not a disease, rather homophobia is. Well, any kind of phobia is for that matter. May be you all homophobes out there would like to make an appointment with a psychiatrist.

    • Rainer Ebert

      I understand your frustration, Hasan. However, I think there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future of gay rights in Bangladesh. While I was in Dhaka in December, I talked to many NGO workers, lawyers and government officials and all of them – without a single exception – understood, and agreed with me, that sex between consenting adult is a private matter that should not be regulated by the government. What is largely lacking is political will to change the law, and, more importantly, civil courage to confront prejudice and intolerance in society. That being said, there are fantastic organisations like BSWS and Boys of Bangladesh that grow by the day and work hard to raise awareness about LGB issues in the country.

  22. Shane S

    So it is ok for these people to be brutalised by authority figures such as the police? The police who, in turn, perform homosexual acts by raping these poor victims? I don’t understand how that can be, ‘ok’. We are all sinners. What we do is between us and the almighty, we should only answer to him for our actions.

    • Rainer Ebert

      In the Qur’an, it says that “[t]here is no compulsion in religion.” (2:256) As long as a person does not harm others, we should respect his or her choices and leave it up to God to pass judgement.

  23. Rashid

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with being homosexual. Bangladesh will do better to move toward upholding the rights of its minorities sooner than later.

  24. robin

    I must welcome the freedom of choice of human being. In Bangladesh perspective it is a very tough job to legalize it but I think at least all negative laws against it should be repealed.

    Thank you Mr Ebert for your excellent presentation.

  25. Sadat

    In the early West, Christianity detested homosexuality. But as the process of secularisation began, religion was deserted from the society and evolution became the de facto standard of morality. As understood from the term ‘Evolution’ the sense of morality i.e. good and bad became subject to change (some may call deterioration). The same West which considered homosexuality as an act of ‘unnatural lust’ (this term even exists in today’s Bangladesh penal code) a few decades ago now considers it as right violation of which will result in penal punishments.

    So this is a radical move from their early understanding of good and bad. If things change in such a pace, it’s not far away that we might see old people walking to the gas chambers or widespread incestuous relationship.

    We Muslims significantly defer from this type of evolving morality i.e. what was wrong 1400 hundred years ago will be considered wrong till the last day. Because our understanding of good and bad comes from a transcendent being Who is above human limitations. Our morality is not fickle as is the case of the West. Maybe tomorrow the West and their INTELLECTUAL SLAVES in the Muslim world will accept the incestuous relationship in their society even then a Muslim will consider it as an act of sin.

    • Rainer Ebert

      The phenomenon you call “evolving morality”, the fact that moral codes have changed over time, I call moral progress. Slavery and racism were morally wrong a thousand years ago just like they are morally wrong today. Our moral codes have changed for the better insofar they have come to accommodate this fact and adjusted accordingly.

  26. Nakib Haider Protik

    I don’t understand this hypocrisy – in all controversial matters I see dozens of people enlightening us with their “waaj-nasihaat”. I also see some pathetic apologetics stating neutral – but absolutely trivial – pieces of facts about religions without explaining why that fact is good/bad for the issue at hand. Why is it okay for them to rub religion in the faces of others in public forums but not for others to criticise them in religious terms?

    I thank Rainer Ebert for the article.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Thanks, Nakib. In a pluralistic democracy such as Bangladesh, religious citizens should offer secular reasons alongside any religious reasons they present in the public sphere. Otherwise, meaningful discourse among people from different religious and cultural backgrounds is difficult, and progress as well as mutual understanding unlikely.

  27. nirjhor

    What a ridiculous article! I say that LGB is not suited for our country. I am also gay but I think I control it within myself. And all LGB must control themselves too. bdnews24.com should withdraw this article because if we support it, homosexuality will now spread all over the country. No need to give an institutional argument or making a law for it.

    • Hasan

      Dear Nirjhor, there is a phrase called ‘internalised homophobia’ which is used to describe a gay person having homophobia (the fear of/being a homosexual) within himself. Such person is always in denial of his own sexuality/sexual urges/orientation. He is constantly fighting with himself to accept who he is. This is mainly caused by a society where homosexuality is frowned upon, where the being openly gay is ostracised.

      I feel sympathetic for you imagining the life of lies and constant struggle that you are living. Such is the magnitude of your self-hatred that you are afraid to say aloud that you are gay, even in an anonymous platform. It’s only one life you have; don’t waste it by living it how others want you to.

    • AmiTumiShe

      So just because you chose self-repression everyone else has to take the same path?

    • Rainer Ebert

      There is no good reason to believe that “homosexuality will spread all over the country” if we are supportive of sexual minorities. Many European and American countries have become more tolerant towards gay and lesbian people without thereby causing their numbers to increase, even though it might seem that way because more gay and lesbian people will “come out” in less hostile environments. Environmental factors have little influence on the sexual behavior of people.

      Also, I would like to give you the same advice Hasan gave you. Don’t waste the only life you have pretending to be somebody you are not. You have a right to a sexually healthy and fulfilling lifestyle just like everybody else.

  28. GMA

    How can this be a human rights issue!! These people i.e. gay and lesbians should be ostracized! period!

    • Rainer Ebert

      I believe that I sufficiently explained in my article why I believe that gay rights are human rights. If you disagree with my view, please address the arguments I presented. Don’t tell us that gays and lesbians should be ostracized, tell us why you think that. By adding a “period!” at the end of your statement, you ended the argument before it even began and, hence, did not say anything worth considering.

  29. delwar h

    If homosexuals have rights, then all the criminals should also campaign for theirs.

    • afsan

      Shocking as it may seem to you, criminals do have rights according to law.

      While in mentally challenged societies gays are denied rights, intolerant and ignorant people have reduced rights in equitable societies.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Homosexuality as such does not harm anybody and is not a crime. It is a human reality. ‎”It always seemed to me a bit pointless to disapprove of homosexuality. It’s like disapproving of rain.” (Francis Maude)

    • NBA

      I thought cruelty, discrimination, murder, violence, racism are among some of the things that are the enemies of humanity…

  30. GMA

    We condemn this type of coward anti-religious, anti-social, anti-humanity activity and those who are promoting gay rights in a Muslim majority country like Bangladesh.

    We all need to stand up against such anti-religious attempt. These people are trying to bring to AIDS IN OUR COUNTRY.

    • Alex

      AIDS is a syndrome, not a disease.

      HIV can be carried and transmitted by both genders and people of any sexual orientation.

      Be derisive if you will, but don’t be proud of your ignorance and poor understanding.

    • NBA

      Hello, not sure what’s cowardly about this article, but here are some facts about AIDS:

      Please be sure to note that the HIV does not discriminate between ethnicity, nationality, or gender. Heterosexual transmission of HIV is more common, in fact. The idea that AIDS is a “gay disease” became known in the 70’s, but of course, the human race has advanced scientifically since then and now we know better.

      Whatever sexual orientation we may have, it is important to use protection while engaging in sexual activities.

    • Rainer Ebert

      GMA, it is true that anal sex (as sometimes practiced between homosexual males) is generally more risky than vaginal intercourse, but keep in mind that anal intercourse is also frequently practiced by many heterosexuals couples. Effective protective devices are available for anal, oral as well as vaginal sex. While the risk of infection can be reduced using these devices, some risk always remains. Adults freely choose to take that risk and it is not for the government to interfere with the free choices of competent citizens insofar no third party is harmed.

  31. Rezaur Rahman

    The article heading should have been “Bangladesh’s invisible sick people.”

      • Abdullah Bin Rafsan

        Rapists and serial killers are not necessarily psychopaths or mentally ill. If they were they would not be punished. But we call them sick–like we call people who have sex with their mothers sick. homos are sick..period..

      • Rainer Ebert

        Rapists and serial killers are criminals because they cause harm to others and violate their rights. Two women (or two men) making love in the privacy of their bedroom do not harm nor violate the rights of anybody.

  32. Imran Choudhury

    We should not waste time on this type of unethical and idiotic issue. Our culture doesn’t permit such perversion.

    • Rainer Ebert

      I guess this is what people said when the issue of interracial marriage first came up: “We should not waste time on this type of unethical and idiotic issue. Our culture doesn’t permit such perversion.”

      German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once famously said: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

      It seems like in Bangladesh gay rights are only one step away from acceptance.

      • Abdullah Bin Rafsan

        Some have compared the prohibition of homosexual marriage to the prohibition of interracial marriage. This analogy fails because fertility does not depend on race, making race irrelevant to the state’s interest in marriage. By contrast, homosexuality is highly relevant because it precludes procreation.

      • Rainer Ebert

        First, homosexuality does not preclude procreation. Lesbian couples, for example in the United States and the United Kingdom, frequently opt for artificial insemination.

        Second, we do not keep infertile heterosexual couples or heterosexual couples who don’t intend to ever have children from marrying.

        Finally, and related, procreation is only one among many possible purposes of marriage.

  33. afsan

    Homosexuality is a touchy subject and causes anxiety in many souls for a variety of reasons. It is one of the great taboos of history and has been condemned in the Abrahamic traditions. Other faiths are more tolerant because they are less obsessed about sexual behaviour than Muslims, Jews and Christians.

    Homosexuality is a natural phenomenon and not a matter of choice. Many animals are gay and most humans experience some form of gay feelings at some time in their life. In fact, according to sexologists, no human is entirely homo or heterosexual but lie somewhere in the regions of mixed sexuality.

    Evidence says that gays are born and not made. Scientists say that it’s all due to the construction of the brain that operates sexual desires so the person has little to do with it.

    Ancient societies had difficulties with homosexuality because such sex doesn’t lead to reproduction which is what people thought it was. However, other traditions were more accepting but nobody has applauded them in history.

    Modern societies are much less anxious about procreation and the rise of recreational sex has made criminalization of homosexuality irrelevant. People have also become more tolerant over time simply because rights including sexual ones have found more space. So even if people can’t accept them culturally, many do so on the basis of human rights.

    Research shows that as societies ‘modernize’ there is less anxiety about socio-sexual behaviour so gays have a better life. Many people who follow Abrahamic traditions find it difficult to accept it even in Western societies. In the East there is social stigma but not violence against gay people though the conditions become more open everyday.

    Religious and other traditions are rooted in tribal identity so any practice that is different is stigmatised. However, as other identities beyond the tribal emerge, society becomes more accepting.

    The idea that everyone including gays have rights is not in ancient religious beliefs because these societies had little understanding of sexual and reproductive rights but most modern societies are based on the tenets of freedom for all as long as it doesn’t impinge on the rights of others. Since gays do not trespass into others rights and homosexuality is a private matter, there is no reason not to ensure them the freedom that all others have.

    • OG

      Please do not spread pseudo-science, by saying that gays are born not made.

      Genetics decide many human attributes like colour of the skin, height etc. But how genetics, not the environment, decide behaviour is not clearly known. There is no such evidence that alcoholics are born, or murderers are inherited.

      • Hasan

        The study/science of sex, gender and sexuality is just 100 years old, which is of course not enough to determine what causes what. Debate on the causes of homo/bi/heterosexuality (nature VS nurture) is still a very new one and given the fact that such behaviours are as varied as individual human beings, isn’t it more valid to just focus on the humane aspects of it?

        After all, how will a scientific evidence established by a bunch of human beings benefit us? Will it uproot the deep prejudices we hold because of ignorance? Or give us valid license to criminalise and prosecute some human beings?

        I believe the intention of both science and religion is to establish peace in the otherwise barbarian race of homo-sapiens. And the key to this is to learn to respect each other by finding our similarities, not differences.

      • OG

        Dear Hasan,
        I appreciate your post. I believe that you might have knowledge about recent developments in biological sciences.
        I completely agree that science is in very early stage to say anything definite on many human behaviour. Especially molecular biology is in its infancy to connect genes with behavioural aspects. Brain research has only been started in large scale.

        Let’s say we forget brain and genetics, as they are not mature yet. But we know a lot about hormones in human. In general, hormone (testosterone, progesterone etc.) level decides sexuality in men and women. And people may have different levels of hormones, thus show different levels of sexual preferences. Therefore, criminalising homosexuality can never be an option. Rather, understanding and treating it in the right way can be an option.

        But the biggest problem to me is that people take any random behaviour in the name of personal freedom. And people use pseudo-science to rationalise something. For example, Nazis measured skull size, nose length, hair colour to determine whether people belonged to the true ‘Aryan race’. Jewish and Romans were often humiliated by the process. The history of human is 4-6 billion years old, and the ‘Aryan’ game happened only 60 years before in one of the most modern societies on this planet. What a barbaric approach to dehumanise, and what a terrible use of pseudo-science!

        Understanding homosexuality would be a fantastic thing to learn. But feeding it to a nation like us by the name of ‘modernity’ would be devastating.

      • Hasan

        Dear OG,
        I am no expert/academic on the topic, but like many others, I have been trying to educate myself on the biological advancement. Of course my quest for information is mainly limited within the virtual world and that is what I can refer to you. Wikipedia (though not a trusted source all the time) is a very effective platform to learn about sexual orientation. Its articles on this subject if widely referred. So if you would, try the link below:


        The article explains biological factors which may be related to the development of a heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual orientation. While we embark on a mission to study, we must keep an open mind and consider the following:

        1) The idea is to learn what causes people to have varied sexual orientation (including heterosexuality)…not to be biased and just learn what causes homosexuality.

        2) While we condemn West for ‘spreading gay propaganda’, it is from the West that we seek scientific affirmation. So we must get rid of our hypocrisy or our fear of the West.

        3) Varied sexual orientation is a fact, science can only help explain it. So it would be wiser to approach it with an open mind. Mixing it up with conservative cultural and religious values will not help.

        Homosexuality is as ancient as the history of human kind. In this part of the world, it also existed. There is a number of literature of ancient India that supports this idea, especially Manusmriti, the most popular Hindu law book of medieval and ancient India. So it is not feeding the nation with anything new. It is just uncovering some of the highly uncomfortable issues that the gradual Islamization has pushed under the rug.

      • NBA

        I would like to know if the only reason you are straight (I am assuming you are) is because you live in an environment that asks you to be straight, or would you have been that way regardless? Would you have “turned gay” if the people around you were gay?

      • OG

        That’s a very good question. I think it’s a mix altogether. The lesson we get, the people we find during our early upbringings, and the spiritual path we follow decide many of your characteristics.

        But I also believe that we as human beings have ‘some’ capacity to decide something for ourselves, at individual and collective level (state or community). We must achieve the wisdom to find out which characteristics are predestined and which ones are within our control. And this is only the Almighty who gives us the wisdom, and I truly believe that wisdom is something which can’t be debated that much.

        I could have been a gay honestly, if I wouldn’t have learnt such lessons or if I was not blessed. That I think ‘straight’ -is partly my choice, but mostly comes from above. The most important thing to me is that we can’t be random. We must have a pre-designed path to lead our lives; otherwise we end up in randomness. This randomness can be highly productive sometimes, like we see among some extremely talented scientists, artists, poets etc. Also, randomness can lead to highly chaotic situations and can be utterly destructive. I do not know whether homosexuality led to destruction of any civilization in the early history, but it is a clear sign of random moralities, which is very scary.

        May be I sound like a believer, which I actually am.

      • Rainer Ebert

        OG, you say that your sexual orientation is, at least in part, a choice you made. For the sake of the argument, let’s assume for a moment that you are right (even though scientific literature suggests you are not). Tell me then, wouldn’t everybody do whatever is in his or her power to be straight in a society where homosexuals are bullied, abused and discriminated against? And still, there are gay and lesbian Bangladeshis – millions of them…

      • Rajib

        You are not only ignorant but lack the ability to learn about facts. Alcoholism is a registered health issue not a moral one and many criminal behaviours are profoundly affected by the matters of the brain.

        As for sexuality, I suggest you read some basic facts about it and also thank bdnews24 to allow your ignorance to be publicly displayed.


    • Kazi Saifuddin Hossain

      With due respect, I would differ with your opinion above.

      You said that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon and not a matter of choice; and also that many animals are gay. But the fact is that it is not a natural phenomenon in humans who have the intellect, which makes all the choices. Your comment degrades the human intellect to that of an animal’s!

      As we all know, sex is an activity where a man and a woman both use their sexual organs or genitals, and experiences deep satisfaction through penetrative sex. Gays and lesbians don’t experience such a feeling, as both the partners don’t get to use their genitals in the act. How can this be sex, by which humankind was meant to reproduce?

      This is a distasteful subject for me to labour on, but I have to dwell upon it for the sake of the young generation to know. Culturally, people of the orient do not see eye to eye with the West. The Westerners talk about respecting other cultures and their values, yet they try to impose upon us their views regarding the matter.

      I feel that LGBTs are mentally sick people, because they are in a make-belief world of sex; probably afraid of the genuine sexual activity that originates from healthy sexual behaviour.

      Finally, I would reiterate my opinion about the West, which I expressed earlier in a comment to one of your write-ups posted on the bdnews24.com. Remember the fox’s story that lost its tail? It assembled all the other foxes in the pack and advised them to lose their tails as well. The West has lost its family ties, and out of envy, wants us to lose all family bonds also. Let the young generation decide whether they would listen to their human intellect, or accept degradation and fall for beastly and perverted lust.

      Post-script: I personally do not feel that I should consult the Islamic scriptures, as our religion’s standpoint on the issue is very clear. However, I have asked for the opinion of the Australian DarulFatwa, and am also doing some digging myself. Hope to update you soon, Allah willing!

      • Reaz

        In 21st century world, sex is less about reproduction and more about pleasure. Two persons can have the deepest and highest of pleasures even without penetrative sex. It does not depend on their sexual organs but more on their emotional involvement and mutual understanding. There are lots of straight couples who cannot have penetrative sex because of a number of issues. Would you then not approve their sexual behaviour?

        And this is exactly where the problem is. In the name of religion, you are just trying to be the supreme authority of regulating how two adults should experience sexual pleasure. This is NONE of your business! And what would it take to make you understand this simple issue of personal freedom?

        I am sorry but you are in NO position to call someone mentally sick just because your idea of ‘healthy sexual behaviour’ does not match with that someone.

        The Islamic scripture does not allow masturbation, fellatio, cunnilingus, anal intercourse, fetishism or any other sexual behaviour that is not reproductive sex. Islam also has restriction on timing, clothing or intercourse position. It also advocates early marriage, sexual abstention, condemns extra and pre marital sex, illicit affairs etc. Can you tell me how many heterosexual couple rigidly follow all these instructions? And do you really go on to sneak into people’s bedroom to make sure that they are following the scripture during sex?

        What happens to the morality or social fabric or legal stature when a boy is sexually abused by a religious preacher, when a minor girl is married off to an aged guy, when master takes it for granted to rape the maid, when a husband is forcefully having sex with wife or when number of girls are committing suicide for eve-teasing?

        Huh! Talk about Bangladeshis and being religious!!

      • Kazi Saifuddin Hossain

        I won’t answer to this comment, because my point of view still stands. For sex, both the partners must engage their genitals in the act. In the case of homosexuals, the female genital is absent. The anus is certainly not a vagina! As for the lesbians, they don’t have the penis at their disposal.

        My comments to Frank Cipriani’s opinion ‘Gay Rights: A father’s perspective’ posted side by side on the bdnews24.com was removed after only half an hour of display today (at 6:30). It could have served as a cross-reference against all the points made by those who are in favour of homosexuality.

        It seems dissension to this perversion is being suppressed, while proponents of gay and lesbian rights have all the freedom to express themselves!

        So much for freedom of speech!

      • Rainer Ebert

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kazi.

        Sex is a biological process and as such has no purpose, just like evolution as a whole has no purpose or goal. However, while nature does not deliberate, humans do and can act with purpose. They might choose to engage in sexual activities for pleasure’s sake, in order to improve their health or because they want to have children. Humans have sex for a variety of reasons and none of these reasons is more or less “natural” than any other one. It’s just about choices competent adults make. I have many gay and lesbian friends and they tell me that, contrary to what you say, they do “experience deep satisfaction” using their sexual organs.

        Respecting other cultures and their values does not mean respecting intolerance, violence and wrongful discrimination. Injustice concerns everybody, everywhere. If slavery still existed in the United States, would you ask your fellow citizens not to speak up and instead “respect” U.S. culture and values?

      • Kazi Saifuddin Hossain

        This is pure jugglery with words! You are certainly not telling the truth when you say that many of your gay and lesbian friends experienced ‘deep satisfaction’ while using their sex-organs. How can they have sex with non-sexual organ(s)? The word ‘sex’ in the English dictionary is being distorted by you people. And the word ‘gay’ has already been made a slang!

        Therefore, write as many articles as you can. I have stated the truth and pointed out the reality to the young generation. You may be able to heat up the debate on the pages of bdnews24.com, but the ground reality would be always different from what you anticipate.

      • Gias

        so you have ‘sex’ only with penis and vagina? no other organs are involved? Like brain, which happens to be the main organ here? How non-sense can someone talk!

        You are indeed a man who thinks with his dick!

  34. HA

    Homosexuality by itself is not a cultural notion to be promoted or spread, it is a person’s instinctive nature and very much a part of their gender. Acceptance of homosexual beings and not being discriminatory towards them, in terms of human rights, however has a lot to do with societies and their structures of freedom.

    It is laudable that more individuals are finally deciding to not stay silent about who they are and making people think about their freedom and rights to live a free life. People of Bangladesh tend to have a conservative bias towards certain taboo subjects. It is great to see the taboo finally being broken. People might differ in opinions but it is important to get them thinking about it critically. Let’s think with logic and compassion and not just from our insecurities!

    Great job!

    • Rainer Ebert

      Thanks for your encouraging comment! The taboo started cracking long ago… thanks to the efforts of BSWS, Boys of Bangladesh and others.

  35. IS

    This article does not “promote” homosexuality. On the contrary, it is showing how hard it is for LGB people in Bangladesh to live a normal life.

    And if homosexuality is against Islam, then what about raping and mistreating LGB people. Should that be accepted?

    Great article addressing an important issue, one that should not be hidden away.

    • OG

      I am against any oppression towards any human being good or bad. That also includes LGB and any other misguided people. At the maximum, they should be held accountable to the law of the land.

      In many western countries, although incest is illegal by law, they are not in effect if the incest takes place between consenting adult (please check wikipedia for citations). Animal brothels are legal in Denmark. These all are happening by the name of personal freedom and human rights. I suspect that the LGB right groups and like-minded in Bangladesh will put forward these issues in near future.

      The West has provided the humanity a lot, and now it is taking its toll.

      I do not blame the individual columnists for writing such articles. This is their personal choice at the end. But by which standards bdnews24 is publishing them? Are you testing our tolerance, like the Dansih newspaper Jyllands-Posten did with Mohammad?
      Please STOP the experiment, NOW! This is only showing how bankrupt bdnews24 is. Vey sad indeed!

  36. mehdi

    A nicely written and well-researched piece. Gays and Lesbians should be allowed to express their sexuality. Unfortunately in Bangladesh it is not going to happen anytime soon.
    In fact in this country sex between consenting adults (straight or otherwise) if unmarried is illegal.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Thanks, mehdi. I’m glad you like my article.

      Reading the many positive comments in this thread, I am hopeful that change is possible. And sometimes change comes faster than we expect. For example, same-sex sexual activity was still illegal in some parts of the United States prior to 2003. Now, only a few years later, same-sex marriage is recognized in a number of states and efforts are underway to legalize same-sex marriage in the remaining states.

      As far as I know, premarital sex between consenting adults is legal in Bangladesh. However, there is a law against adultery (Section 497, Bangladesh Penal Code). Curiously, it only applies to men.

  37. rezwan

    Are you guys insane? Are you trying to remove the ban from gay sex in our country? Remember, it’s a Muslim country. Maybe the govt. is always ready to follow India in every step of the way but not this one! So, stop publishing these so-called human rights articles.

  38. OG

    Thus bdnews24.com is promoting homosexuality. May be you are honest in mind, or your are blindly following the ‘Western’ world view. I agree that there are homosexual elements in our society, and that should be treated with care and respect. But promoting from a quality level, like bdnews24? Alas!

    • Rainer Ebert

      The editors at bdnews24.com only published my article. The views expressed in my article are all mine, and I am responsible for them. I don’t believe that I “promoted” homosexuality (if that is possible even). I’m just asking people to accept homosexuality as a human reality and practice tolerance towards those many Bangladeshis who happen to be gay or lesbian.

  39. maraam

    We strongly condemn and protest against this heinous blueprint of trying to promote vulgarity in our country in the name of promoting LGB rights.. We strongly urge bdnews24.com to be more sensible in what contents they publish and not to publish any such articles in future. You have accountability to the nation.

    • Rainer Ebert

      I’m sorry for the fact that my article is offensive to you. This was not my intention. However, remember that when people first spoke out against racism and sexism, it was offensive to some others, too.

  40. Alamgir Hossain

    Homosexuality is a psychological disorder. I believe it can be treated like many other mental disorders. Instead of encouraging them to involve further in sickness, we should provide them proper counselling and treatment to recover from this inhuman illness.

    Also, oriental people don’t take things the way the Western people do.

    • NBA

      Hello, just to clarify, homosexuality is not a psychological disorder.

      Here is a passage from the page:

      “Is homosexuality a mental disorder?
      No, lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding. Therefore, these mainstream organizations long ago abandoned classifications of homosexuality as a mental disorder.”

      I hope this will clarify some misunderstandings :).

  41. orko

    It’s really worrying for our society. People have started to follow and influenced by Western culture and practise. We should strongly resist it.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Equality, freedom and tolerance are universal values. They are deeply rooted in every culture and upheld by people across the world.

      • Abdullah Bin Rafsan

        Wrong. They are not universal — never were and their meaning differs from time to time and societies to societies. The only universal value is that people who have sex with their mothers, bestial, perverts and homos should never be tolerated, they aren’t equal to normal and sane people in the society and they should be locked up.

      • Rainer Ebert

        If you had presented an argument for your claim that LGB people “aren’t equal to normal and sane people in the society and they should be locked up”, we could have had a meaningful conversation. But as it is, I can only point you to my other posts where I explicitly argued that homosexuality is normal and neither a crime nor a disease.

      • Abdullah Bin Rafsan

        Having sex in public in mutual consent with one’s mother isn’t a crime and quite normal according to you? Is it? What about having sex with a corpse and eating it (if the deceased person agrees to it before he died)? You are fighting for homo perverse.

        If you and your friends and family in Bangladesh preach against its laws and norms–you all should be prosecuted. You are not welcome here. I challenge you to make a gay pride parade in Dhaka–in order to establish that you are welcome here by the people of Bangladesh.

  42. Golam Arshad

    Rainer: You have inked a very vital aspect of denial in our own society. I hope and pray that judicious understanding, will be in fairness in this matter. Good job!

    • Rainer Ebert

      Thank you, Golam. I hope that the courts will do the right thing when they’ll have to decide whether Section 377 is constitutional.

  43. Bangladesh

    I hope bdnews24.com will never publish such type of unethical and anti-religious article at future.

    Best of luck bdnews24.com.

    • Rainer Ebert

      I commend bdnews24.com for publishing my call for action against homophobia in Bangladesh. It takes courage to give controversial voices to a forum, in particular when they speak up for unpopular minorities.

  44. bluesky

    What the hell are you talking about! It’s a Muslim majority country. For this unethical activity, the nation of Hazrat Loot (aw) has been destroyed and deadly HIV virus is caused by “gay” activity. So beware of such evil tendencies.

    • Alex

      Ignorance is never something to be praised: perhaps the article disagrees with your opinion and that of your religion. But HIV is a virus like any other transmitted between any people by any number of ways.

      Needle Sharing, Parent to Child transmission, Heterosexual or Homosexual acts- HIV is not specific to the ‘”gay” activities’.

    • normalguy

      Sorry Mr Bluesky, but as far as it is known throughout the world, the HIV virus is found in the Rhesus monkey.

    • Rainer Ebert

      Bangladesh is first and foremost a country where everybody can expect to be treated with equal respect, regardless of religious or political affiliation, race, caste or sex. The Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees equality and religious freedom and it is, hence, not for the government to impose either your private views on morality nor some religious law on its free citizens. Please understand that I do not expect you to give up your religious beliefs. However, I do expect you not to impose your personal beliefs on others – “[t]here is no compulsion in religion.” (Qur’an 2:256)

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