The Notorious 377 Penal Code-Bangladesh
By Md Aminul Huq,London
Is it illegal to be gay? Yes according to section 377 penal code of Bangladesh, voluntary carnal intercourse against “the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” is punishable with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to ten years and fines.
The Absurd phrase means all forms of sexual activity of same-sex other than heterosexual penile-vaginal intercourse is prohibited.
The gay and trans community in Bangladesh is under constant pressure, where the number of LGBT activists is increasing but their visibility in public is life-threatening. In 2016 the two Queer activists Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Mahbub who were involved promoting the right of sexual minorities were hacked to death in the street. Their murder is the proof of the power of Islamic extremist groups against the LGBT community even if someone avoids the extremists’ government with section 377 will be there to punish the victims.
Intolerance and discrimination against sexual minorities are rising every day. Even slight visibility of activism can attract unwanted attention from extremists and government. Online activists are at greater risks as well after the introduction of another notorious Digital Security Act.
Most of the 75 countries that criminalise homosexuality are located in Asia and Africa and half of them are Commonwealth countries. Bangladesh signed a statement opposing LGBT rights at the United Nations General Assembly and what shocking were 58 other countries signed the statement against LGBT rights.
Several crowdfunding pages were made to raise funds to initiate Legal battle against section 377 Penal Code of Bangladesh. None of the political stripes even in power dared to repeal the penal code out of fear of backlash from Muslim Fundamentalists.