In fear after attacks, gay Bangladeshis retreat into closet and flee abroad

On Dec 5, 2016 the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported: BANGKOK – Seven months after al Qaeda-linked militants hacked Bangladesh’s most prominent gay activist to death, the South Asian country’s LGBT community remains in hiding, while more than a dozen LGBT people have fled abroad.

“The whole community has been sent back to the closet,” a gay activist in exile told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on condition of anonymity because he fears for his safety.

“Any kind of work – whatever we had been doing – it has been completely shut down. There is no movement, no visibility, no work. It is a horrible situation. We have never imagined the situation would be like this.”

Bangladesh’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community was already marginalized, with gay sex being illegal, punishable by a maximum of life in prison.

Then there was a coming out of sorts with the 2014 launch of the country’s first LGBT-themed magazine, Roopbaan, which became a subject of interest in the media and on social media, prompting a backlash and threats.

The community suffered escalating threats and then on April 25, Xulhaz Mannan, the founder and publisher of Roopbaan, and gay actor Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were hacked to death at Mannan’s home in Dhaka.

The attack, claimed by the regional arm of al Qaeda, was the first of its kind to target the LGBT community, although it followed more than 30 killings since early 2015 of academics, bloggers and atheists who published views critical of Islam.

via In fear after attacks, gay Bangladeshis retreat into closet and flee abroad | Reuters

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