Seminar organized by the BLW in London
The BLW and its members organized a seminar to defend Human Rights. It was titled as LGBT+ AND SECULAR RIGHTS AT RISK-BANGLADESH PERSPECTIVE. The event was held in 20thJanuary, 2019, in one of the most popular venues for human rights activists-the Conway Hall in Holborn, London. Aim and viewpoint of the seminar were to defend human rights. Activists vowed to show support for LGBT+ Community and Secular community in Bangladesh amid attacks and killings of secular bloggers, writers, activists, publishers and journalists in recent years. They also addressed concerns for rights, safety and security for Secular and LGBT+ community.
The Seminar was directed by the editor of BLW ( Boys Love World ) Syed Isteak Hossain Shawon who wrote and read the main article. First part of the seminar was hosted by Abu Hanif and Arman Ahmed, and second part was hosted by Enyetul Huda Upal and Arman Ahmed who are some of the members of BLW. The event started at 12 in the noon at ended at 7 in the evening which was held at the Conway Hall, Holborn, London in 20thJanuary, 2019. Prominent activist Gita Sahgal of Centre for Secular Space, who is writer and journalist on issues of feminism,fundamentalism, and racism, a documentary films director, and a women’s rightsand human rights activisttook part as a speaker. She was one of the main speakers along with Maryam Namazie who is a British–Iraniansecularistand human rights activist, commentator, and broadcaster.Namazie is the spokesperson for Iran Solidarity, One Law for All,and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britainand is a patron of London Black Atheists. Eminent activists like Simon Ware of Amnesty International, Sadikur Rahman Rana of National Secular Society (NSS), Rachel Taggart Ryan of Humanists UK, Hsien Chew of Barberfellas, Ajanta Dev Roy of Ganajagoron Mancha UK were some of the speakers. Other speakers included Sadia Hameed of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), Jimmy Bangash of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), and Daniel Fitzgerald of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB). Former Miss Ireland and activist Maksuda Akter Priyoti also spoke at the seminar. Famous Bangladeshi-American writer and activist Bonya Ahmed (Rafida Ahmed Bonya) was also one of the speakers who was attacked and stabbed along with her husband-Dr. Avijit Roy. Dr. Roy was a Bangladeshi-Americanonline activist, writer and blogger known for creating and administrating the Mukto-Mona,an Internet community for freethinkers, rationalists,skeptics, atheistsand humanistsof mainly Bengaliand other South Asiandescent.Roy was an advocate of free expression in Bangladesh, coordinating international protestsagainst government censorship and imprisonment of atheist bloggers. He was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 26 February 2015; Islamic militant organization Ansarullah Bangla Teamclaimed responsibility for the attack. Activist Riaz Osmani And Natalie Bleau also spoke at the seminar. Distinguished and well known Blogger and activist Asif Mohiuddin sent a video message that addressed solidarity and support for the LGBT+ and Secular Community. He is a Bangladeshi atheistand secularactivist, religious criticand feminist.In 2012, he won The Bobs-Best of Online Activismaward fromDeutsche Welle, who stated that “Asif’s blog was one of the most read web pages in Bangladesh and is known for its strong criticism of religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh’s “anti-people politics”.On 15 January 2013, he survived an assassination attempt by Islamic extremists.A few months later, he was imprisoned twice by the Bangladesh Governmentfor posting “offensive comments about Islamand Mohammad“.Due to sustained international pressure, Mohiuddin was released, after which he fled from his country to Germanyin 2014. In 2015, he received the Anna PolitkovskayaAward for Journalism.
The speakers spoke about on-going sufferings of secular and LGBT+ activists of Bangladesh. They also addressed about the attacks and killings of writers, bloggers, teachers, journalists, publishers, and activists. They demanded prosecution of killers and attackers and also pledged action to secure rights, safety and security of activists of all communities. Moreover, speakers talked about history of activists in Bangladesh, particularly the atheists and secular minded people. Demands from the seminar included scrapping the penal code 377 that punishes people for being Gay and scrapping penal code 295 that punishes people for criticizing Religion. Speakers also expressed concerns about people being arrested for being gay, LGBT+ gathering or meeting and attacks on the secular community. They condemned Bangladesh Government’s voting against the UN proposal to ban Death Penalty for homosexuality.
The event was covered by Independent television of Bangladesh. Journalists and broadcasters showed outstanding support for the event’s motto. The BLW were live in Facebook and Twitter. People in social media were very enthusiastic about the event and its contents.
People from different organizations and countries were following the event. Many people reacted with their opinion in social media. People across the UK and other parts of the world showed support for the secular and LGBT+ Community. The BLW and its members tried to send a message to the Bangladeshi Government on securing rights of LGBT+ and Secular community. Activists and guests showed their support and solidarity for it and expressed wills to stand by the BLW and its activists.