Persecution of Homosexuals (Bangladesh)

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Note that this page may contain news regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, and transsexual people (LGBTT)

Gay couple seeks refuge after being stoned, whipped, cast out from their families and community, and a local cleric issued a fatwa calling for their deaths

The appeal before the high court in Canberra, brought by two Bangladeshi men, was turned down by the refugee appeal tribunal, but has the support of Amnesty International Australia. Its outcome could set a precedent for other countries.

The two, identified in court as K, aged 32, and R, 51, arrived from Bangladesh in 1999. They had previously lived together for four years, but say that when this became known they were stoned and whipped, and cast out from their families and community. A local cleric issued a fatwa calling for a death sentence against them, they said. Under Bangladeshi law sodomy carries a maximum life sentence.

"They would not be permitted to live openly [in Bangladesh]," their lawyer, Bruce Levet, told the court yesterday. "They would be subjected to a range of problems, including the possibility of being bashed by police."
. . .
An Amnesty International Australia spokesman said: "People should not have to hide their sexuality to avoid persecution. We don't tell victims of political or religious discrimination that they should go back and be more discreet about their politics or religion, and we shouldn't be doing it to people because of their sexualities either."

Ann Duffield, an adviser to immigration minister Philip Ruddock, said the government was fighting the appeal because it believed the two men did not have a valid case under international law.

"Homosexuality is in the government's view not a valid reason for seeking asylum under the UN convention on refugees," Ms Duffield said.
Victimised gay couple contest refugee refusal
David Fickling, The Guardian, April 9, 2003

United States grants political asylum to a Bangladeshi gay man who was threatened with stoning, raped by police, forced into electroshock treatment and ordered by his family to enter into an arranged marriage

Islamist groups funded from Saudi Arabia are campaigning for the introduction of shari'a law, which has historically been unknown on the Indian subcontinent.

Gay men will be obvious victims of this trend, which is being resisted only fitfully by Bangladeshi politicians fearful of offending Islamic sentiment.

Recently the United States granted political asylum to a Bangladeshi gay man who was, he said, threatened with stoning by Islamic fundamentalists.

The man also reported being raped by police, forced into electroshock treatment and ordered by his family to enter into an arranged marriage.

There is a real danger that Bangladesh may follow Pakistan down the road of fundamentalist intolerance
Why gay men flee Bangladesh
Adam Carr, Sydney Star Observer, April 16, 2003

Young lesbian couple flee Pirojpur to start a new life together, but police track-down and arrest them in their Dhaka flat for marrying each other, threatened with life imprisonment

Two girls were arrested in Bangladesh yesterday for marrying each other. Shibronty Roy Puja, a Hindu of 16, and Sanjida Akter, Muslim 21, had run away from the district of Pirojpur - where they both lived - on 14 July to reach Dhaka, the capital. In the country, homosexuality is illegal and punishable with imprisonment for life, as are marriages, civil partnerships and cohabitation between people of the same sex.

Sanjida gave private lessons to Shibronty. After their flight, the father of the younger girl reported his daughter missing. The police found and arrested them in Mahammadpur (Dhaka), where they had rented a house. It is at that point that the two girls confessed the truth to the agents: they were in love and were married, exchanging garlands of flowers, as required by the Hindu tradition.

In Bangladesh, people belonging to the LGBT community (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) range between 1.6 and 4.8 million. They are not recognized and receive no form of social, religious or legal support and are often victims of persecution.