Tanvir Alim

Love that doesn’t count

September 23, 2013

istock_000016995701xlargeHasan and Khaled are in love since they know each other for last two years. They first met each other in a hidden Facebook group with fake profiles. Later, they met in person and a friendship developed. Khaled has been in Dhaka for the last three years and works for a small private company. Hasan was living in a suburb of Dhaka but recently moved to Dhaka to go to university there. Naturally, it was not easy for him to get accommodation in the government university hall. Hence, both of them decided to live together, also to strengthen their relationship, and started searching for a small flat. Fortunately, they found one but, as soon as the landlord came to know that they are two bachelors living together, he closed the door without hesitating. Hasan and Khaled tried to explain that they are very good friends, and that they will keep the flat neat and clean, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Their right to privacy is denied by the existence of Bangladesh’s sodomy laws (BPC 377), which is applicable to gays, even if the relation is in private and between consenting adults.

Growing up, we were taught that society is where men and women get married, and that’s how a relationship works. But at least 10% of the total population of every country belongs to a non-normative gender or sexuality.

According to Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 1, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” But the fact is that, according to Bangladesh Panel Code 377, same sex acts are criminalised and can be punished with lifetime imprisonment. The free association and free expression of lesbians and gays are denied explicitly through legal provisions and there is no recognition of same-sex partnership in Bangladesh.

Many of us are proud that we are a very tolerant nation. We are considered a secular state, and people from different cultures live here in peace and harmony. But are we really tolerant? Is our society open to let us choose our love? There is a culture of collective denial of the existence of the gay community in Bangladesh due to social conservatism. Stigmatisation and taboo have made the gay community a vulnerable community. Unable to cope with social conditioning, they try to find a way of coherence. Homosexuals in Bangladesh are pushed into a life of secrecy, lies and even internalised homophobia.

Often this issue is considered western. There was an online article on the issue of homosexuality last year, and here is one of the reactions: “These sick people have destroyed the moral fabric of western society and now they are trying to do the same in Muslim countries.” However, some movements in Islam, such as the US-based Al Fatiha foundation, accept homosexuality, considering it natural. They are working toward the acceptance on non-heterosexual love relationships within the global Muslim community. Progressive Muslim scholars around the world argue that while the Qur’an speaks out against homosexual lust, it is silent on homosexual love.

Does the gay community ask for special right? It might sound strange that we are talking about gay rights in a country where there is hunger, poverty, road accidents, acid violence and other such extreme problems. But the fact is that gay rights are human rights, not any special or additional rights. Gay rights are basic civil, political, social and economic rights.

Being a man, wearing pink shoes is not easy in our society. Friends will come up and ask, “Are you gay?” Let alone your wish to become a dancer or fashion designer. The freedom of movement is denied this way.

The right to non-discrimination and to be free from harassment is usually denied by omitting sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws, constitutional provisions or their enforcement. “That’s so gay” has become a common slang among the young generation. This socio-cultural silence and the taboo surrounding homosexuality is giving rise to a guilty feeling that I’m sick, I’m a sinner, and I’m a shame for society. It causes permanent depression, or even suicide attempts in some cases. We might not have sex education in our curriculum but can’t we expect teachers or family to start a dialogue on these topics?

The right to be free from torture and inhuman treatment is infringed upon by social practices. Homosexuality was removed from the international classification of diseases of the WHO and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, but in our medical schools it is still taught as a form of perversion. Often it happens that whenever a gay man is coming out to his family, apart from physical and mental torture, he is forced to consult a psychiatrist and go through medication.

The rights to free expression and free association may either be denied explicitly by law, or lesbians and gays may not enjoy them because of the homophobic climate in which they live. For awareness building or research, if an organisation wants registration here, will the government allow that?

Think about a lesbian woman! Gay men can have a virtual space on the internet but is there any place where a lesbian woman can go in our society? What will happen if her sexual identity is disclosed at her workplace? Do we really think of it in terms of a right to work? Not only are they part of a minority in terms of gender, but they are also part of a minority in terms of sexual orientation. I remember the day when I came out to one of my colleagues. It took three complex attempts to beg for my acceptance. His reaction was quite normal as he had gay friends. So I asked, “How will you react if your son or younger brother comes out to you tomorrow?” His answer was straightforward: “I’ll take him to a psychiatrist.” Is it a nice feeling when we work together for ages and I know that his perception about me is so easily defined as “sick”?

The right to physical and mental health is at conflict with discriminatory policies and practices, some physicians’ homophobia, the lack of adequate training for health care personnel regarding sexual orientation issues and the general assumption that patients are heterosexuals.

It was late 2002 when the first online gay group, Boys of Bangladesh (BoB), was started by a handful of self-identified gay men. They were hoping to build friendship ties, in order to begin talking about their sexuality comfortably. The first attempt came as late as May 2005 when the BoB moderators published a letter to an English daily regarding International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. People quickly took notice of the letter. Within days the paper published homophobic responses. And even today, has our society started talking about their sexuality? Do we talk about sexual harassments, abortion, post-marital rapes or premarital sex? Don’t we often tend to sweep them under the carpet?

In the last couple of years, there also were several articles in online and offline newspapers on the topic of sexual orientation, where reactions came like this: “Dogs, cats or any other animals are not humans, yet they don’t indulge in such practice,” ”If your father was gay how your birth would have taken place and how would you write this article?” This makes the community either never come out of the closet or be a victim of ridicule.

Yet, the LGBT community in Bangladesh was highly optimistic when in a UPR working group session the government recognised the existence of the LGBT population in Bangladesh: “On LGBT, we concur with NRHC that the laws of the land… However, we recognize the need for protecting all vulnerable groups of our population, given their constitutional equal rights and freedoms. Moreover, we do not condone any discrimination or violence against any human being on any pretext.” This is in contrast to 2009, when the government of Bangladesh rejected similar recommendations, saying that “Bangladesh is a society with strong traditional and cultural values. Same-sex activity is not an acceptable norm to any community in the country. Indeed, sexual orientation is not an issue in Bangladesh. There has been no concern expressed by any quarter in the country on this.”

The affirmative words on LGBT issues coming from the government this year mean a great deal for the local community who is living a life of lies due to social, legal and religious barriers. But disappointment came when at the review meeting; the suggestion on formal approval of homosexual relations was discarded by the foreign minister considering the socioeconomic and religious values of the country. It disheartened us when Sanjida had to go to jail for loving a person of the same sex, even though Bangladesh is signatory to ICCPR, ICESCR, CEDAW and other covenants that ensure and protects the rights of sexual and gender minorities. This clearly depicts the criminalisation of homosexuality, although the charge against her is abduction. In this regard, we want to recall that, in 2009, the government accepted recommendation to train law enforcers to protect sexual and gender minorities.

We are disappointed to see the government’s double standard that becomes apparent if one considers that, on the one hand, the government talks about protecting the vulnerable groups, and that, on the other hand, the government refuses repealing Section 377 because of social values and religion. We strongly believe that Section 377 is a discriminatory law that has made a minority group criminal on the basis of sexual orientation. We know that a law can’t be changed overnight. But, at the same time, repealing Section 377 is important because it will bring social change which we can see in India, Nepal, Thailand and other countries in the region. We get thwarted to see how homosexuality is politicised for the sake of religion when a statement of a Nobel laureate endorsing homosexuality is quoted to bash down the opposition. Politicizing the issue and labelling it with Islam in such a manner puts the whole issue in a debate to the mass population for sure.

The government already has an extensive HIV/AIDS programme under the Ministry of Health, which also includes men who have sex with men (MSM) and Hijras. Hence, the government’s claim that sexual orientation is not an issue in the country is only a way to brush aside the realities, and to avoid acknowledging human rights violations of sexual and gender minorities.

South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu said: “We should all have the right to express ourselves; all have the right to be heard. All have the right to be what we can be: to reach for the sky and touch the stars. No matter who we are, no matter whether we are man or woman, or rich or poor: My voice, my right. My voice counts.” In the end it should be love that matters; not person, orientation, gender, race, or physique.

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Tanvir Alim represents Boys of Bangladesh, a non-registered, non-funded, informal network of self-identified gay men in Bangladesh.

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113 Responses to “ Love that doesn’t count ”

  1. Gourob on October 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Apart from all debates, I just wanna say, homosexual’s right is also human right. Gays/ lesbians are not a from a different planet!! So we should respect all as Human.Section 377 is against Human Right.

  2. Ehsanul Haque on October 6, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Sexual orientation can never be a matter of choice or chance. A person can only be born into it naturally. Any mental-physical attraction in itself is an urge that comes naturally to a living thing. It is not a commodity that one may use and throw. Speaking human-to-human, nobody, no society and no government should have the right to “command” any individual’s basic humanitarian right of any kind, nor “define” a person’s sexual orientation as natural or unnatural. PERIOD!!!
    And talking of traditions and cultures, there ain’t a doubt that we homos value and cherish them – and furthermore readily promote and partake in them – more dedicatedly and passionately than the retard homophobes!
    At times I personally feel so shunned and enraged by the superfluous discrimination and bigotry (also hidden hypocrisies of various sorts) that I think only a collective uprising can give us homosexuals our much needed freedom in ink and paper!!

  3. Faisal Ahmed Misha on September 30, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I think people should have the right to LOVE someone whom he wants to address. Love can bring the peace in the society as well as can build the strong connection towards the members of the society. Society already divided with different issues. Let’s not take the LOVE part for differentiating the society.

    • Ehsanul Haque on October 6, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Wisely put indeed. Hats off to you! :)

  4. জহির on September 30, 2013 at 1:44 am

    knowledge here is a giant issue for this “issue”. then how this knowledge ( about sexuality ) lay down behind the thinking ability of people and then the power which is a tools of regulating the community by thus some how state are functioning for them not for the every one. on the Other hand sexuality is such a discourse which is forbidden by our culture but a discourse with such captive body for all. We come to know about sexuality according our practice,our surrounding and culture not rationally, Religion here one of the base to build up a regulating mind setup. where the hyper-reality has acceptance, reality and micro reality is marginalized.
    this article by Tanvir alim a brave and rational writing which keep trying our eyes open and come to crack down usual knowledge about sexuality( heterosexuality).

    • Tanvir Alim on October 4, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Thank you for your nice comment.Please keep on supporting the LGBTQ movement in Bangladesh!

  5. Riaz Osmani on September 29, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you Tanvir for that article. Very timely and appropriate. We are facing a lot of ignorance from so many people who have commented on your article. We have to be prepared with proper answers to ridiculous points or questions. And we will always have the religious brigade represented by like of KMAK. We will maintain that the story of Lot was about male rape, not about male love. So the Quran in effect doesn’t say anything about homosexuality. All the hullabaloo are social constructs created by heterosexual men.

  6. Nahid Majid on September 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I understand a small group of homosexuals in Bangladesh having connection with LGBT community worldwide and financed by certain overseas groups/people interested in such an unusual human being behavior is active in promoting this vice more vigorously in Bangladesh to garner more support of more people to their fold and to encourage more people to do homosex aiming to increase the number of their community of people. I think trading of a group of people is involved in this ugly affair and there are merchants at home and abroad for promoting this homosexual practice and maybe, they belong to some media owners, media personalities, jounrnalists, some individuals, intellectuals……but maybe, they are doing this service, not only at their free will but against certain fees. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

    • Riaz Osmani on September 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      You are completely mistaken. First of all, you cannot encourage more and more people to perform “homosex”. It doesn’t work that way. Only those with homosexual orientation (ie who are born gay) can perform gay sex in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling. So this discussion is about whether lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans-gendered people have the right to live their lives in Bangladesh without being termed as criminals and without all the social stigma.

      • khadijah on October 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm

        I do totally agree with you and others who support equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual people. Human rights are inalienable, inherent to all human beings, whatever our race, sex, color, sexual orientation, ethinic origin, nationality, religion or any other status. While denying any one group, we are ultimately denying our own rights.
        To the people who don’t support equality for us, it is one thing to believe that you are on the right path, and quite another to think yours is the only possilbe way for everyone else.
        Yes, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people exist; we are everywhere, around you, but invisible. We can’t easily come forward because everywhere we see, there are ignorance, hate and bigotry. But we’ve been living through and surviving. Just because you don’t approve of us being gay does not erase our existence from society.

  7. Sarah Fergussion on September 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Homosex is nothing but a moral weakness; it is not acceptable. I condemn this act and urge people to shun this wrong path. I hope then you will be able to lead a more good and valuable life.

    • Riaz Osmani on September 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      That is your personal opinion, one that smacks of ignorance. We are not just talking about a sexual act. We are talking about a person’s identity based on his or her sexual orientation, one that cannot be chosen but born into.

  8. Zahid on September 28, 2013 at 3:05 am

    I find this article very enlightening. I know there are many gay men in Bangladesh, not sure about lesbian women though.

    I just didn’t think I’d be reading about such a topic in a national publication. It just goes to show how much progress on communication we’ve made.

    Will the homosexual community gain even a semblance of acceptance in our society? I just don’t see it happening I’m afraid, not in the near future at least.

    • Tanvir Alim on September 28, 2013 at 11:53 am

      There was a time when women were not encouraged to go for education in this continent. They have changed that. So lets hope for the best :)

      • Federico on September 30, 2013 at 10:27 am

        Are you saying that in a country full of millions, you do not think there are gays, lesbians or transgender folks? Of course there are! We exist in thousands, society only represses us and leads us into forced marriages or even death.

  9. afsan chy on September 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    There is an emerging community of MSM( Men who have sex with men) and WSW ( Women who have sex with Women) but don’t consider themselves as gays. This is the bi-sexual community. Its not unusual to switch from hetero-sexuality to homosexuality and women are ready to embrace this lifestyle more. The number of women who move from heterosexual to homosexual marriages/partnerships are also much more.

    Another group where ‘casual’ bi-sexuality is common is among swingers and wife swappers that is those who have group sex or switch sex partners including spouses for recreational sex.

    Some experts say that the West is moving towards a post-heterosexual stage where gender based sex identity is declining and there are many examples of this.

    It also seems to indicate that bisexuality could be a social/lifestyle phenomenon for some rather than identity based on biological sexuality.

    Gay lifestyle is promoted both by the sex industry and governments as this generates income and cultural inter-action just like heterosexuality industry. The Toronto Pride Parade is the leading public gay event in the world which draws many people from different parts of the world.

    In Bangladesh, the matter is different since the social conditions are different and the nature of the taboo culture differes from the West. Dealing with sexual rights may happen much later but given that 25% of the people don’t get enough to eat, where minority Hindus are forced to leave the country, gays may find a waiting time before this happens.

    But gays don’t suffer from a special intolerance and discrimination in Bangladesh, every minority group does.

    • Tanvir Alim on October 4, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      সমকামীদের সারাজীবনই সমাজের সাথে যুদ্ধ করে যেতে হয় কিন্তু তাদের প্রথম বড় যুদ্ধ নিজেদের সাথে। নিজের কাছে স্বীকার করে নেয়া যে সে অন্যদের মতো ‘স্বাভাবিক’ না, সে এমন একটা কিছু যেটাকে ঘৃণার দৃষ্টিতে দেখা হয়, তার এমন একটা ‘বিশেষত্ব’ আছে যে কথা জানতে পারলে তার সব প্রিয় মানুষগুলো তাকে ছেড়ে চলে যেতে পারে – এটা কি পরিমাণ অসহণীয় কষ্টের হতে পারে তা হয়তো যারা কখনো এরকম ‘সব হারাবার’ ভয় এর মুখোমুখি হইনি তারা বুঝতে পারবো না।

  10. Rulia Kazi on September 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

    http://www.Bdnews24.com authority : Do you support homosexuality? Do you have homosexual boys and girls working with you in this online newspaper? Do you feel comfortable working with them?

    • Tanvir Alim on September 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Why should not bdnews24 feel comfortable? Do we peep into what you do inside your bedroom? Why should you or bdnews24 care about what we do there? They way state gives you privacy, can’t I deserve the same being a citizen?

      • Rulia Kazi on September 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        Tanvir: I expected response from http://www.bdnews24.com authority directly. I still expect a response from them to understand their stance on homosexual.

        It is not a matter of peeping into anybody’s bedroom as you have presented. Neither did I think so? Since it is a matter of privacy, as you have thought, is it then justifiable or decent to publish such a piece which is of deeply private? Keep it private then please; why are you bringing it into being as debates on the matter?

        You are a citizen of this country and you deserve the same level of privacy from the state as we deserve, it is okay. I don’t mind for that.

        Your language has become too harsh. Thank you.

        • Riaz Osmani on September 29, 2013 at 11:29 pm

          This is not just a matter of privacy. This is a matter of whether lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans-gendered people have the right to live their lives in Bangladesh without being termed as criminals and without all the social stigma.

        • Tanvir on September 29, 2013 at 11:42 pm

          Sorry if my language has become harsh. I would have kept it private if the constitution (Penal code 377) would not have bothered what I do inside my bedroom

  11. Sanjida Shaheed on September 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Allah has destroyed Lut (alaihis salam)’s people because they practiced sodomy EVEN after Lut (alaihis salam) asked them not do so, since this is forbidden by Allah.

    A Muslim is someone who submits to Allah’s Will. So a Muslim cannot support homosexuality.

    …………………………………….

    The people of Lot denied the messengers
    When their brother Lot said to them, “Will you not fear Allah?
    Indeed, I am to you a trustworthy messenger.
    So fear Allah and obey me.
    And I do not ask you for it any payment. My payment is only from the Lord of the worlds.
    Do you approach males among the worlds
    And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing.”
    They said, “If you do not desist, O Lot, you will surely be of those evicted.”
    He said, “Indeed, I am, toward your deed, of those who detest [it].
    My Lord, save me and my family from [the consequence of] what they do.”
    So We saved him and his family, all,
    Except an old woman among those who remained behind.
    Then We destroyed the others.
    And We rained upon them a rain [of stones], and evil was the rain of those who were warned.
    Indeed in that is a sign, but most of them were not to be believers.
    And indeed, your Lord – He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful.
    [Surat Ash-Shu`arā' 26:160-175]
    Sahih International
    http://quran.com/26/160-175

    • Rainer Ebert on September 26, 2013 at 12:49 am

      Some questions and answers about homosexuality and the story of Lut

      Wasn’t the story of the Prophet Lut (PBUH) clearly about homosexuality?

      Not exactly. The story of the Prophet Lut (PBUH) — called “Lot” in English — can be read and understood in different ways.

      Isn’t there only one way to read the Qur’an?

      No. There are several ways to read the Qur’an. For example:

      • People can read literally: reading word for word, using exact definitions.
      • People can read semantically: thinking about a word’s meaning in the sentence and in other places in the Qur’an.
      • People also can read thematically: finding the meaning of a whole passage by looking at how it relates to themes in the Qur’an.

      Why not just read the Qur’an literally?

      Reading the Qur’an literally is not as simple as it sounds. It can lead to misunderstanding the whole passage and sometimes it is just confusing. For example, in English, the word “hot” can mean:

      • something or someone has a high temperature (“Watch out! The stove is hot!”)
      • something or someone is popular (“The new electronic game system is hot this year.”)
      • someone is attractive (“I think that actor is hot!”)
      • something or someone is causing disagreement or strong feelings (“The status of women in Islam is a hot topic among Muslims.”)

      To make things even more complicated, meanings can change over time. Many years from now, someone might read the sentence “I think that actor is hot” and assume the actor had a high body temperature!

      Since the words “homosexuality” and “homosexual” do not appear in the Qur’an at all, we must read the Qur’an in a different way if we want to find out what the Qur’an can tell us about homosexuality. If we insist on reading the Qur’an literally, we can only say “The word ‘homosexuality’ doesn’t appear in the Qur’an, therefore the Qur’an tells us nothing about the subject.”

      How is a semantic reading different?

      A semantic reading looks at the word in context. Above, we saw how a word can mean different things in different contexts. Even when a word means the same thing in different contexts, the overall meaning can be different. In the following examples “hot” always means “has a high temperature” — but in each case the relative meaning is very different.

      • a hot cup of coffee -> good
      • a hot bowl of ice cream -> not good
      • a hot bath for an adult -> refreshing
      • a hot bath for a baby -> dangerous

      A semantic reading of the Qur’an lets the reader look at the meanings of words as they are used in the story of the Prophet Lut (PBUH). The reader then can look at how those words are used in other places in the Qur’an. From this, the reader can tell more about whether the words refer to sexual acts and whether the words are used to mean something good or something bad.

      What is different about thematic reading?

      Thematic readings let readers think about the bigger picture of what they are reading. It lets readers consider the time and place of the stories in the Qur’an, as well as other circumstances. Thematic reading is not a “new” way to read the Qur’an. It is actually something that Muslims do automatically when reading some parts of the Qur’an.

      Classical stories of the Prophets, called Qisas al-Anbiya, also contain thematic readings. These stories are not exact records of the Prophets’ lives. They are not intended to be read as fact. Instead, they were written to make sense of the Qur’an’s short references to the lives of the Prophets. Without knowing the whole story, the short references in the Qur’an may not make much sense. The Qisas al-Anbiya try to fill in the blanks so that the Qur’an references make sense.

      Do semantic and thematic readings reveal anything about why the people of Lut were punished by God?

      Yes. In the story, the Prophet Lut (PBUH) first advised the people of the city of Sodom to follow God’s path, but they ignored him. Later, the men of Sodom threatened to rape Lut’s male visitors, who were angels disguised as men. God then punished the entire city of Sodom for rejecting their Prophet (Lut) and for “transgressions.”

      Some scholars interpret the “transgressions” in the story of Lut to refer to male homosexuality. Yet the word “transgressions” in the Qur’an can mean something sexual or something non-sexual. Men were not the only ones punished in the destruction of Sodom. According to the Qur’an, the whole city was destroyed. Lut’s wife is specifically mentioned. Were Lut’s wife, other women and the children of Sodom punished for male homosexuality? That does not seem to be a reasonable conclusion.

      A thematic reading of the story of Lut can be found in the Qisas al-Anbiya (classical stories of the Prophets). A story written by the scholar Muhammad ibn Abdallah Al-Kisa’i puts the strange behavior of the men of the city of Sodom in a context that makes sense. Al-Kisa’i suggests that the people of Sodom had taken to showing their city’s dominance by raping strangers. They were showing that they could take what they wanted from others. In that way, people became afraid to raid the city. This showed aggressiveness, stinginess and greed—all things that would justify their punishment. A thematic reading also tells us that the story’s main purpose was to show that people had rejected their prophets in the past, as some rejected Muhammad during his lifetime, and how those who rejected prophets were punished. This is clear from the context of the story of Lut, which is placed among other stories with the same theme.

      Was the behavior of the men of Sodom an expression of sexual desire?

      No. The Qu’ran says that the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with the visiting angels by force. This is an example of rape, not an example of sexual desire. Rape is about power. It is used to coerce, control or punish the victim.

      Is there any other reason to think this is the correct way to understand the story of Lut?

      Yes. In two hadith — or stories of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) — there is support for this understanding of the story of Lut. In one, the Prophet Muhammad asked the archangel Jibra’il (Gabriel) why and how the people of Lut were destroyed. Jibra’il responded that they did not clean themselves after using the bathroom or having sex, they did not share their food, and they were covetous (wanting things that belonged to others) and stingy. In another hadith, someone asked the Prophet Muhammad about the penalty for stinginess and the Prophet told the story of the people of Lut.

      Based on this reading, what should Muslims take as the lesson of the story of Lut?

      Based on this reading, the story of Lut can instruct Muslims to:

      • follow the example set by the Prophet Lut (PBUH) of hospitality, generosity and protection of people who are vulnerable, such as travelers.
      • avoid stinginess and greed.
      • condemn rape — and speak out against any use of sexual acts to coerce or control.
      • uphold and respect relationships based on consent, fairness, mutual support and love for one another.

      Islam supports many kinds of diversity — and sexual and gender diversity in particular were acknowledged in the Qur’an and by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Common punishments for homosexuality in Islamic countries have no basis in the Qur’an or sunnah (the record of the exemplary life of the Prophet Muhammad). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims do indeed deserve a place in Islam.

      Source: http://mpvusa.org/portfolio/sexuality-diversity/

      • KMAK on September 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm

        Some at bdnews24 are probably unaware of the fact that Rainer Ebert is an atheist. Now why is an atheist giving Muslims advice on how they should interpret the story of Lot in the Quran considering that he does not even believe in the book to begin with?

        • afsan chy on September 26, 2013 at 6:23 pm

          Why did you say that Rainer Ebert can’t discuss the Quran and that too in praise? Who gave you that right? He has every right to discuss it and please state the Quranic verse which says otherwise? He has in fact engaged on Islam and if an atheist does so, you should thank him instead of being bigoted. Is it because he seems to know more about Islam than most?

          BTW, I teach both Hindusism and Buddhism and am neither. The source of your argument is prejudice not faith.

          • KMAK on September 26, 2013 at 8:07 pm

            Mr.Chowdhury, as a person who is conversant with Western academic studies on Islam, both mainstream and revisionist (the likes of Luxenburg, Crone, etc.), I am not prejudiced against non-Muslim scholarship.

            Rainer Ebert isn’t engaging Muslims in an academic fashion. Academicians are not in the business of telling Muslims how they should believe in Islam or how they should interpret certain verses in the Quran. Yet, Rainer Ebert is doing just that.

            He’s not enlightening us on a different interpretation of the story of Lot. No, he’s telling us that we should believe in his propaganda, not because he sincerely wants us to embrace the truth; rather, he is far more interested in getting Muslims to accept homosexuals, even if that means distorting the Quran. This is the same Ebert who is also opposed to Muslims sacrificing animals during Eid Al Adha, and as with homosexuality, he also attempted to use the Quran against us, knowing full well that there is no basis for his position.

        • zeenat on September 26, 2013 at 8:57 pm

          You don’t know me and you have no right to attack me because of the comments I had made earlier. Calling people “bigot” and “unintellectual” is a sign of your own weakness as a human being and it only reflects on you. By doing that you only showed that you are narrow minded and cannot bring yourself to have a rational discussion on a subject that doesn’t meet your fancy. What does that make you? I think the answer would be that you fit the description of a bigot, not me. I was stunned by some of the comments people were making regarding the article. They showed neither basic decency nor empathy. God created all of us equal, and no one has the right to insult or dismiss those who are different from you and I. And yes, unlike you I am proud to have secular views. I never said I live in the west and flipping through the pages of vogue. As I said you need to chill. No more replies please because I am not going to look at this article again, I have things to do. You need to get a life.

          • afsan chy on September 27, 2013 at 7:32 am

            KMAK,

            Every scholar takes the facts and then interprets. There is no other way in knowledge making or producing. Rainer Ebert thinks that Quran isn’t against homosexuality and has cited facts to that effect. You can cite against his position and the matter should end there. You are also doing ‘propaganda’ as do many Muslims but some do not and they also have the rights to speak their mind. He is interpreting it to suit his ideas as you are doing so. You believe in Islam and he thinks about it. It’s not his job to strengthen your faith but to do so the best thing is to listen to him and others, believer or not, and argue your position rather than condemn them personally.

    • Tanvir Alim on September 26, 2013 at 1:36 am

      You dont need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion

  12. afsan chy on September 25, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    The demonizing of gays are rooted in procreation culture of the ancient people. Ancient fertility based societies could hardly be expected to endorse any sexual behaviour which didn’t lead to procreation which is what sexuality was all about particularly in Middle eastern societies where food and fertility were both in challenge. As these Abrahamic religions took over the world, their dogma also spread so the strong anti-gay feelings amongst them. However, blaming religion without understanding the context is not very sensible.

    That gays should have as much rights as any other sexual orientation groups goes without question but the success of gay activism in the West has happened as all minority groups have faced marginalization.

    While 15% of the Western people are poor there is minimal activism for them but gays who are about 5-6% of the population occupy a vast majority of the sociopolitical space. The West is pro-gay but not pro-poor and the rise of the gay profile has actually happened as the poor lost this space. Wonder why this has happened but its suggested that the establishment would rather be nice to gays than the poor which involves a high recovery cost.

    I have not seen any significant problem that gays face in Bangladesh to lead their life. Of course they can’t live openly but few people are harassed openly. Its a society of double standards and non-gays do the same and should till times changes. But nobody actually is punished for being gay. That happens in many cultures particularly Muslim societies elsewhere.

    Finally, as someone who has lived in the West in the academic world, I found gays to be one of the more intolerant groups where being gay is as dogmatic as being straight as held by the religious fundamentalists. People there are scared of being critical of anything gay as the gay groups gang up and go after them.

    I think France , where hijabs are banned and Iran where hijabs are mandatory are two good examples of the same intolerance. Let’s look at such issues not just as a contest between liberals and the prejudiced but an evolved historical social issue of the biological variety.

    • zeenat on September 26, 2013 at 5:11 am

      I think it is the job of the news media to address all the social issues including the plight of the gay community. By discriminating against them will only undermine other major fights such as HIV/AIDS. bdnews24 has taken a bold step by printing this article.
      My comments had made some of the mullahs unhappy and to them I say hatred is a wasted emotion.

    • Tanvir Alim on September 28, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      You might have not seen any significant problem that gays face in Bangladesh to lead their life because managing multiple personality and living a life of lies, lies and more lies can be felt, not seen.

  13. S.R. on September 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    In a country full of hypocrites, where politicians as well as mass people use religion as weapons against women and marginal communities, this type of responses are not original or unexpected. Love and acceptance can never be taught, no matter how sound your reasoning is. However, I hope this article will provoke rational discussions among some unbiased people and earn us a few allies.

    Thank you for this write-up :)

    • Tanvir on September 25, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      Thank you for your kind words.
      I’m glad you like my article.

      • Adil Hossain on September 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm

        Tanvir : Are you a homosexual? Explain your own position first.

        • afsan chy on September 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm

          why on earth does he have to do that ? Listen to his arguments, accept or discard, argue or agree… what does it matter if he is gay or not.. I was a mentor to gays for years.. so now you must ask me to declare whether I am a gay or not..

          • Shahina Hoque on September 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm

            Afsan : It is very good to learn that “why on earth does he have to do that?” Then in other words, I may also say he is free from such a morally low or downcast state and I am happy to know that.

            In the same vein, when you say : “what does it matter if he is gay or not..”, it gives the impression of a double-standard of your action.

            “I was a mentor to gays for years..” – is it to counsel them so that they come out from this vice or to propagate it being a good quality for its further growth?

            Understood that you are not a gay or homosexual and I thank you very much.

        • Tanvir Alim on September 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm

          I am a human being :)

          • Adil Hossain on September 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm

            Tanvir : You are a human being, that is fine. That is not my question : if you are a homosexual, please tell us; if you are not, then also please tell us. If you are a mentor for the homosexuals and the likes like Afsan Chowduhury, you may write back to enlighten us. Why so shy?

        • Tanvir Alim on October 4, 2013 at 10:29 pm

          সমকামিতা নিয়ে খোলামেলা আলোচনা করতে গেলেই ধরে নেয়া হয়, ঐ ব্যক্তিটি একজন সমকামী, নতুবা সে সমকামীদের সামাজিক এবং নাগরিক অধিকারের কথা বলছে কেন? কিন্তু সমকামীদের মানবিক অধিকারের কথা বলার জন্য সমকামী হওয়া জরুরী নয়, এই নিয়ে আলোচনা মোটেও সমকামিতাকে উৎসাহিত করা নয়। আপনি ব্যক্তিগত ভাবে সমকামী যৌনতা সম্পর্কে কি মনোভাব পোষণ করেন তা এখানে গুরুত্বপূর্ণ নয়, এখানে গুরুত্বপূর্ণ হচ্ছে একজন মানুষের অধিকার কতটুকু। যতক্ষণ পর্যন্ত না কারো যৌনরুচির কারণে কোন অপরাধ সংঘটিত হচ্ছে, কারো ক্ষতি হচ্ছে, ততক্ষণ এই বিষয়ে অন্য মানুষের কিছুই বলার থাকতে পারে না।

  14. Rainer Ebert on September 25, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Thank you for this timely and daring article, dear Tanvir! Anti-homosexuality laws are unacceptable, and a blatant violation of human rights. I hope that the Government of Bangladesh will recognize the injustice of Section 377 sooner rather than latter, and I wish Bangladesh’s LGBT movement the courage to play a leadership role in their country’s struggle against homophobia.

    • KMAK on September 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      “Anti-homosexuality laws are unacceptable, and a blatant violation of human rights.”

      We’ve already had this discussion Ebert, yet you continue to harp on the same issues over and over again. The vast majority of Bangladeshis refuse to recognize the “right” of homosexuals to be who they are. Bangladesh is a vastly different world compared to the Western countries that accommodate homosexual rights. Ours isn’t an individualistic society going through a social upheaval in the form of declining religiosity, a fall in the marriage rate, an increase in divorces and a rise in cohabitation, among other things, which many Western nations are going through today. No, by the grace of Allah, we are still very much a traditional, conservative nation and, therefore, any argument in favor of legalizing gay rights must be formulated considering the social and economic realities of Bangladesh. Hence, given that Bangladeshis by and large are united in their moral outlook, then for your argument to work you must show that the decriminalization of homosexuality isn’t incompatible with Bangladeshi values which are ultimately rooted in Islam.

      The existing laws against homosexuality are in a way good for homosexuals. Without these laws, homosexuals would be encouraged to go out in the public about their identity. However, given the violent backlash they will inevitably face should they go public (ours isn’t an open minded society after all), it is not in the best interests of homosexuals to be explicit about their preferences. Once again, the social (and moral) conditions characterizing Bangaldesh aren’t conducive to the well-being of homosexuals. For homosexuality to prosper, Bangladesh would have to go through the same social transformation that Western countries went through.

      • Tanvir Alim on September 26, 2013 at 1:44 am

        There will be a day when we won’t come out. We will just say that we are in love and that will be all that matters.

      • Sumit Mazumdar on September 27, 2013 at 10:34 am

        “Vast majority” supporting a position makes it neither right nor wrong. The vast majority of Indian Hindus were against Raja Rammohan Roy when he was fighting aginst the burning of Hindu widows on the pyres of their dead husbands. The vast majority was also against Pandit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar when he was fighting for widow remarriage. In both cases the vast majority was lacking in moral clarity, compassion and ability to reason. The vast majority in the southern states of US was pro-slavery in the 1860s.

        The argument that the “vast majority” should be consulted before righting a wrong is cruel and anachronistic. History will discard this philosophy. One can say that it already has – people like KMAK are fighting a losing battle, in which they can only label opponents as “atheists” and so on.

        • Tanvir Alim on September 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm

          thank you Sumit Mazumdar. You just said what i was about to say :)

      • Federico on September 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm

        ‘The vast majority of Bangladeshis refuse to recognize the “right” of homosexuals to be who they are. Bangladesh is a vastly different world compared to the Western countries that accommodate homosexual rights.’

        Why is Bangladesh then even engaging with the Western world in all matters of commercialization, economic mobility and finance? Social and radical change occurs through the small and daring acts of a few revolutionaries and visionaries, not through the united vision of the country as a whole. The sooner you realize that, the faster you will realize what a revolutionary breakthrough Tanvir Alam and the QUEER Bangladeshi movement is accumulating in the public forum and the broader human rights discussion. These comments that you are posting have been distributed throughout all of social media by myself and like-minded people for the world to see how debased your arguments are and we are gaining momentum slowly. Just remember that and dare to make your next comment.

        • KMAK on September 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm

          Frederico, judging from your name you’re most likely a foreigner. Looks like colonialism isn’t dead yet.

          “Social and radical change occurs through the small and daring acts of a few revolutionaries and visionaries, not through the united vision of the country as a whole. The sooner you realize that, the faster you will realize what a revolutionary breakthrough Tanvir Alam and the QUEER Bangladeshi movement is accumulating in the public forum and the broader human rights discussion.”

          What’s so revolutionary about this propaganda piece? That fact that it has been published by an English, secular, liberal, politically biased, news website which panders to a handful of like-minded readers? If you didn’t know, and it is only natural that you don’t, the average Bangladeshi does not get his news from the internet, much less bdnews24. Let’s see how many Bangla newspapers are willing to publish Mr.Tanvir’s article, and how many talk shows are willing to invite him over to discuss his views; then we can talk about a revolution.

          In a sexually conservative society such as ours where women can’t wear bikinis or where films don’t show kissing, much less nudity; where sex before marriage is condemned, where living together prior to marriage is not an option, where chastity is praised and promiscuity scorned, among other things; you have to be incredibly naive or incredibly asinine to think that Bangladesh is ready to embrace homosexuals and other perverts.

          “These comments that you are posting have been distributed throughout all of social media by myself and like-minded people for the world to see how debased your arguments are and we are gaining momentum slowly. Just remember that and dare to make your next comment”

          As Afsan Chowdhury wrote, “Finally, as someone who has lived in the West in the academic world, I found gays to be one of the more intolerant groups where being gay is as dogmatic as being straight as held by the religious fundamentalists. People there are scared of being critical of anything gay as the gay groups gang up and go after them.”

          Ironic how you managed to expose yourself as intolerant troll.

          • Federico on September 30, 2013 at 10:24 am

            Your comments do not make any sense. You just aligned the term ‘homosexual’ with the term ‘pervert,’ which goes to show how intolerant and uneducated you are. Also there is no point commenting to useless people’s posts such as yourself who can’t even come up with solutions, but rather try to engage in uncouth commentary because that’s how you feel validated in your existence.

  15. samir haque on September 25, 2013 at 10:03 am

    we do it.. we feel it.. but afraid of admitting it… and its happening still. ..

  16. samir haque on September 25, 2013 at 10:00 am

    someone wrote amra ki ultra modern hoye gelam.. lol

    we seriously need some basic homework to do b4 saying something like this.

  17. shoaib on September 25, 2013 at 9:12 am

    to all the negative people here: if gay people are not hurting you, why do you care how they choose to live their life? worry about corruption, poverty, crime, murder and rape. those are real problems. leave the gays alone. they don’t care about you, so kindly return the favor. they have a right to their lifestyle as much as everyone else.

    • Tanvir Alim on October 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      Thank you for your nice reply

  18. Lilpi on September 25, 2013 at 2:50 am

    These brave men and women should be applauded for their bravery. All people deserve human rights not just straight people. Allah loves us all.

  19. dhushor on September 25, 2013 at 1:34 am

    Sexuality is not something that we learn from watching porno.It’s encrypted in our very chromosomes. At time the code is deciphered and we develop our sexual urges. It’s the hormones that decide whether to act towards a guy or a girl. If “Homo-sexuality” is a disease/curse or a dis-order, then the whole concept of sexuality is nuisance.

    • Tanvir on September 25, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks for sharing your perspectives

  20. druvonil on September 25, 2013 at 1:31 am

    why educated people still beliving that being gay is sickness ! ! ! how can they post a comment without knowing nothing about it… people please try to look around and use ur brain..

    • Tanvir Alim on October 4, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      এটা এখন প্রমাণিত সত্য যে সমকামীতা একটি অতিসাধারণ প্রবৃত্তি৷ এখানে ধর্ম কী বলল না বলল তাতে কিছু যায় আসে না৷ ইতিহাস, প্রমাণ, বিজ্ঞান তার সত্য নিয়ে এগিয়ে যাবে৷

  21. druvonil on September 25, 2013 at 1:27 am

    u r right, but those so called modern people (!) are blind..they cnt accept the truth bcz of their one way mind.

  22. dhushor on September 25, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Sexuality is not something we learn from watching porno.It’s encrypted in our very chromosomes.At time the code is deciphered and we develop our sexual urges.It’s the hormones that decide whether to act towards a guy or a girl.If “Homo-sexuality” is a disease or a curse or a dis-order,then the whole concept of sexuality itself, is a nuisance.

  23. prince on September 25, 2013 at 1:19 am

    ” Does the gay community ask for special right? It might sound strange that we are talking about gay rights in a country where there is hunger, poverty, road accidents, acid violence and other such extreme problems. But the fact is that gay rights are human rights, not any special or additional rights. Gay rights are basic civil, political, social and economic rights”………. few people commented on behalf of majority that it’s a sickness, not a matter of discussion, can’t be excepted on our soil but without knowing the matter through or trying to know it none just can just call it sickness….not a matter of discussion, mate if u want a bike or something from your parents that can be a matter of discussion but lives of people can’t. Gay or lesbian they also work for their living, they earn their daily wages by working, not begging.if they can contribute to country’s economy then why can’t they exist in the soil? Just because they love same sex otherwise they do all the other things as straight people?

    How many of those who commented negative here actually know about homosexuality or did they ever tried to learn? Just read an article and I have to comment my not so well known mind here because I never learned or tried to learn about it but what I small know it’s the univers.

    Come on people don’t be an educated dush. Use your education and treat everyone as one because that’s what we are. If the society excepts homosexuals then we won’t come running biting you…..we can help each other in all steps and truly make the society a better place for living.

    • Tanvir Alim on October 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      আমরা যে শিক্ষা ও অর্থনৈতিক স্বনির্ভরতার উপর জোর দিচ্ছি, প্রচলিত সমাজ ব্যাবস্থা ও পুরুষতান্ত্রীক সামাজিকতা অটুট রেখে সেটা কতটা ফলপ্রসু হবে? শিক্ষার সাথে সাথে আমাদের সমাজের সংস্কার ও তার দৃষ্টিভঙ্গী পাল্টানোর উপর জোর দেওয়া উচিৎ।

  24. OR on September 24, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Shame on bdnews24.com for publishing this article. and this is not the first time they did this. This opinion page has published similar write-ups in the past. What’s their agenda i tell you.

    • Shakhawat on September 25, 2013 at 2:13 am

      What is their agenda?

    • Federico on September 25, 2013 at 9:10 am

      You don’t know what the hell you are saying. You should go back to the cave you dug yourself up from. Stop committing human rights abuses by publishing such uncouth and uneducated comments.

  25. gm on September 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    why do we have to accept mentally sick people?

    • Shakhawat on September 25, 2013 at 2:17 am

      Fact check:

      1. LGBT people are not mentally sick!
      2. You don’t have to accept us. What we are asking for is our protection from violence, discrimination and harassment. Every human beings deserve to live!

    • Lilpi on September 25, 2013 at 3:15 am

      How about human basic rights

      • Tanvir Alim on September 26, 2013 at 1:08 am

        Human rights are not optional

    • Federico on September 25, 2013 at 9:14 am

      What’s mentally and spiritually sick is you even commenting on this article. Thousands of people have suffered by being forced into gay conversion therapy for just being who they are. You are limiting freedom of expression and humanity’s potential to progress into methods of tolerance by making this abhorrent comment. Please refrain from using ‘we,’ since you do not represent the collective nation of Bangladesh. Homophobia is a social construct and the sooner people realize that, the better.

  26. shameful on September 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    what is bdnews upto? why are they promoting homosexuality?

    • Tanvir Alim on September 26, 2013 at 1:49 am

      Homosexuality is found in over 1500 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

      • Abdullah Bin Rafsan on September 26, 2013 at 11:18 pm

        Propagating filthy homosexual agenda is also found in only one species. Now you decide.

  27. ismail on September 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    No gays are not normal. They need to go to doctors and treat themselves from this mental problem they have.

    • Shakhawat on September 25, 2013 at 2:18 am

      Why do you think gays are not normal? What do you mean by ‘normal’?

    • Tanvir on September 25, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Thereafter other major mental health organizations followed and it was finally declassified by the World Health Organization in 1990.

      Consequently, while some still believe homosexuality is a mental disorder, the current research and clinical literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, reflecting the official positions of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.

      • Farhat Rahman on September 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm

        Not normal? That means gays are exceptional? I believe that would be the correct answer.

  28. mo on September 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Bangladesh kono western country na. ja khushi tai korlei cholbe na ki? belellaponar ekta limit ache.

    • Tanvir on September 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Male homosexuality in Muslim culture existed during the Mughal period in India. Under the Muslim rulers homosexuality entered court life. In Islamic Sufi literature homosexual eroticism was used as a metaphorical expression of the spiritual relationship between God and man, and much Persian poetry and fiction used homosexual relationships as examples of moral love.

      http://www.gay-art-history.org/gay-history/gay-customs/homosexual-traditions.html

  29. Illusion on September 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    It’s disheartening to see such replies to quite a bold article. Hypocrisy of Bangladeshi society knows no bounds, where watching vulgarities on TV, consuming alcohol “in secret”, running a bank system that goes completely against Islamic laws is the norm. Yet when a simple issue of a man loving another man is brought up, the preaching of religion begins. Indeed, as a society it seems we haven’t become very “modern”, as some of the replies suggest. It’s not something to be proud of. Persecuting people for being themselves simply because they defile your personal interpretation of “normal” is nothing short of cowardice. And hiding behind the blanket of religion is pitiful, that too when you’re taking your bottles of alcohol, interest from bank and Hindi serials under it. Really, TRY to become more modern. It’s a positive term. It promotes forward thinking, not retardation.

    • Farhat Rahman on September 30, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Thank you for understanding. Please keep on supporting the LGBTQ movement in Bangladesh!

  30. khandoker on September 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    what are you saying? are you serious about accepting gay love? that’s insane!

    • Tanvir on September 25, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      how can accepting love between two persons be insane?

  31. yellow on September 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    so what are those people supposed to do who are gays or lesbians? are they to die or lead a life on complete lie?

    • Tanvir Alim on September 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Thank you for your reply

  32. hye on September 24, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Such a disgusting topic is not a matter of discussion.

    • Shakhawat on September 25, 2013 at 2:20 am

      Why is it disgusting?

    • Lilpi on September 25, 2013 at 3:18 am

      Love is beautiful

  33. anim on September 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    it’s a sickness.

    • Lilpi on September 25, 2013 at 3:19 am

      No, it’s how Allah made them. Wonderful

  34. Noyon on September 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Homosexuality will never be accepted in our soil. No matter how many articles are published.

    • Lilpi on September 25, 2013 at 3:21 am

      In time it wi’ll, even if your generation doesn’t. Another will inshallah.

    • Tanvir Alim on September 26, 2013 at 1:26 am

      Do you think that if homosexuality is accepted then more people will decide to be gay?

      After blacks gained their rights, did all the white people went out and decided to become black?

  35. Hamidul Hassan on September 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    What is this? Amra ki ultra modern hoye gelam

    • Tanvir Alim on October 4, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      There are several instances in ancient Indian epic poetry of same sex depictions. There are several stories of depicting love between same sexes especially among kings and queens. Kamasutra, the ancient Indian treatise on love talks about feelings for same sexes. Please read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_history

  36. KMAK on September 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    While reeking of the same stench as the other pro-homosexual writings hosted by bdnews24, there is an exception to this piece, namely, the author’s attempt to use the Quran to sanctify his sexual perversion.

    “Progressive Muslim scholars around the world argue that while the Qur’an speaks out against homosexual lust, it is silent on homosexual love.”

    The Quran is not silent on homosexual love. When the Prophet Lot(as) condemns his people for their sexual perversion, he specifically chastises the men of Sodom for taking other men, rather than women, as their “zawj”. Now the words “zawj’ and “zawjatun” which respectively refer to husband and wife are only used in connubial contexts in the Quran, making it clear that the same sex relationships characterizing the perverts of Sodom are no different from what you and your likes are seeking to legalize in Bangladesh.

    I’m also going to take you to task for audaciously claiming that there are progressive Muslim scholars around the world who support same sex relations. Name 1 Bangladeshi progressive scholar, 1 Pakistani scholar and 1 Indian scholar who support this view.

    Let me end this post by quoting Mr.Reazul Karim, “Why is it when it comes to right and wrong we cannot have own values based on our culture and faith, but have to copy from the West !! If tomorrow western countries start legalizing group sex and group marriages as the new trend will you become the brand ambassador to promote the idea here too? brilliant proposal….and yes as a Muslim I am deeply offended by this proposal. I am more shocked to note that this is an ‘editorial’ and not just a mere article!!! ..Forgive me for not being so modern!”

    • Lilpi on September 25, 2013 at 3:24 am

      The story of lot was not about homosexuals. They where straight men who raped.

      • KMAK on September 25, 2013 at 4:59 pm

        “The story of lot was not about homosexuals. They where straight men who raped”

        The idea that the men of Sodom were straight dudes who used rape as weapon is a modern concoction, used primarily by so called progressive Muslims and homosexuals to make the idea of same sex relations theologically acceptable to the wider Muslim community. Can you name one medieval scholar who identified the men of Sodom as straight men?

        Be that as it may, when we look at Surah 26 verses 165-66, it becomes clear that the men of Sodom exclusively preferred men over women, which contradicts your claim of their being straight.

    • Shakhawat on September 25, 2013 at 3:36 am

      As much as you would like it to be, Bangladesh is not a Sharia law based country (yet…thank Allah!). Every citizen, regardless of whatever differences, deserves protection and equality under the constitution. It is the responsibility of the State to ensure that.

      • KMAK on September 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm

        “As much as you would like it to be, Bangladesh is not a Sharia law based country (yet…thank Allah!)”

        Bangladesh is not a Sharia law based country. True. It is also true that according to the recent Pew Survey of the Muslim world, the vast majority of Bangladeshis are opposed to homosexuality, and the vast majority of Bangladeshis want Shariah to be the law of land. Additionally, the recent AC Nielsen/Democracy International survey shows that a sizable majority do not support a separation between religion and politics.

        Once again, you and your kind are the odd ones out.

        • Tanvir on September 25, 2013 at 8:46 pm

          The word ‘homosexuality’ does not exist in the Qur’an. The assumptions made about homosexuality and Islam are often based on references to the story of Lut in the Qur’an. Recent scholars (Jamal, Nahas, Kugle) have analysed the verses* that are thought to mention homosexuality and come up with new interpretations based on techniques of interpretation used by reformist scholars and feminist scholars working on gender topics. In doing so they have tried to challenge the heterosexual bias of former interpretations in order to clarify and dissolve the widely held misconceptions and assumptions underlying Muslim laws and within Muslim societies about same-sex sexuality and same-sex relationships.

          http://www.safraproject.org/sgi-malesexualityandislam.htm

          • KMAK on September 25, 2013 at 10:08 pm

            Tanvir: “The word ‘homosexuality’ does not exist in the Qur’an”

            Neither do the words “secularism”, “democracy” and “Tawheed”. What’s your point?

            Tanvir: The assumptions made about homosexuality and Islam are often based on references to the story of Lut in the Qur’an. Recent scholars (Jamal, Nahas, Kugle) have analysed the verses* that are thought to mention homosexuality and come up with new interpretations based on techniques of interpretation used by reformist scholars and feminist scholars working on gender topics.

            Mr.Tanvir, you clearly haven’t done your homework. You made the audacious claim that progressive scholars ALL AROUND THE WORLD are coming to see the story of Lot in a different light. If that is really the case, it would have been easy for you confront me with the names of some scholars from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, thereby establishing the phenomenon you speak of as a universal one as opposed to being an agreement among a handful of Western “intellectuals”. Not only have you failed to provide the names of any South Asian scholars, you refer me to the works of individuals who are all Western based and who come from questionable backgrounds. I have no idea who Jamal or Nahas is, but I am aware of the writings of Scott Kugle. How convenient of you to leave out the fact that Kugle is himself openly homosexual!

            So a homosexual believes the Quran doesn’t condemn homosexuality, and he comes to this conclusion by projecting his own suppositions into the Quran! Yeah, that’s scholarship all right!

            In any case, I have already argued that the Quran condemns homosexuality without making a distinction between love and lust. Do you have any counter-arguments to that?

        • Shakhawat on September 26, 2013 at 2:58 am

          You missed my point! Whether there is a possibility of Sharia law to be established in the country is a whole different conversation. I simply tried to say that under the present state of the State, a citizen must be protected from any form of violence.

          To accept homosexuality is one thing and to not prosecute a gay person because of his/her sexuality is another. I cannot stress enough on the fact that the govt is bound to give me protection as pledged in the constitution. Now if you want to disregard the constitution, you should very well be upset with not just homosexuality but everything else about the independent nation that is Bangladesh.

          You can quote and even sponsor many such surveys, but opinion of the majority does not validate the oppression on minorities.

          The degree of development in a country is judged by how it treats its minorities.

          • Sumit Mazumdar on September 27, 2013 at 10:41 am

            All revolutionaries go against the wave, and hence against tradition. Truth has nothing to do with what the “vast majority” believes – see my comment as response to KMAK’s comment above. All revolutionaries (including Prophet Muhammed) had to fight traditionalists. Truth is – homosexuals are not made, they are born that way. Ergo – they have equal rights as all, and no one, even in a Muslim majority country can take that away. Basta!

  37. Xulhaz Mannan on September 24, 2013 at 11:52 am

    As the Bangla proverb goes, ‘Shishu na kaanle, maa-o dudh dey na”, I strongly believe the LGBT communuty in Bangaldesh need to come out and forward to address this issue, just like you are. Many will talk about the backlash and the negative consequences of such coming out, but then how can we blame our ’state and society’ for not accepting us if we are not out there and loud with our demands.

    It’s our issue and it needs to start with us.

  38. Anwar A. Khan on September 24, 2013 at 10:57 am

    What is this? What has leaned on the shoulder of bdnews24.com? What has prompted them to publish such a nuisance?

    • Tanvir Alim on September 26, 2013 at 1:30 am

      They are an ally because love is a human experience, not a political statement.

  39. Zeeant on September 24, 2013 at 5:59 am

    You are writing this article when people around the world are cheering Pope Francis’s remarks on gays when he said the Church is becoming too focused on gay issues. Even though the world is evolving, the roots of homophobia is widespread.In conservative Muslim majority Bangladesh, gay people are systematically neglected and devalued. The society as a whole also manifests the pervasive cultural norms when it comes to gay rights. Brutal gay bashing continues because heterosexual males and females have incorporated a heterosexual ideology which justifies contempt for gay men and women. Peer group also plays an influential role in society to isolate and alienate people of different sexual orientation so that they cannot establish their identity. Unless the laws are amended and society changes its views that being gay doesn’t destroy a person’s talent and other attributes, gay people will continue to suffer in secret places and they will always be the obvious victims of fundamentalist intolerance.

    • KMAK on September 24, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Zeenat:You are writing this article when people around the world are cheering Pope Francis’s remarks on gays when he said the Church is becoming too focused on gay issues…

      I don’t know if you are aware of this but Pope Francis has recently excommunicated a pro-gay marriage priest. As Tim Stanley notes, “He’s not the liberal the media wants”.

      Zeenat: Unless the laws are amended and society changes its views that being gay doesn’t destroy a person’s talent and other attributes, gay people will continue to suffer in secret places and they will always be the obvious victims of fundamentalist intolerance.

      How do you plan on getting Bangladeshi Muslims to change their views about homosexuality being a sin? By telling them that they shouldn’t pay attention to what the Quran says?

      • Lilpi on September 25, 2013 at 3:30 am

        How about reread the Quran and look at it with untarnished views. I think it would surprise you.

        • zeenat on September 26, 2013 at 5:06 am

          Why not tell people to read the Quran when you see people consume alcohol? What does Quarn say on that? I am not an activist of any kind, I just wanted to say that being hateful towards any community is not healthy. It slows progress. People are who they are and there is not a damn thing you and I can do about it. We do not have to embrace them but show them the basic human respect that they deserve. they are just humans, like you and I.

          • KMAK on September 26, 2013 at 5:57 pm

            “Why not tell people to read the Quran when you see people consume alcohol? What does Quarn say on that?”

            Both alcohol consumption and homosexual activities are wrong according to the Quran.

            “I am not an activist of any kind, I just wanted to say that being hateful towards any community is not healthy. It slows progress.”

            Funny you mention hate, considering how you glibly brushed religious opponents of homosexual rights as “mullahs” in one of your earlier posts. I am as much a mullah as you are an unintellectual secular bigot for whom progress is whatever is in vogue in Western nations. Let me ask you this, is opposition to sex before marriage or adultery also considered as barriers to progress in your books?

      • zeenat on September 26, 2013 at 4:54 am

        You need to chill! Such comments and discrimination against gay community will undermine other major fights like HIV/AIDS. Just because they are different from you and I, does not give us any right to insult them. It is a matter of basic human decency. Hatred is a wasted energy.

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