International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia - Bangladesh Celebrates IDAHOT

18-07-2014

This year on 17th May, the 10th International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) was commemorated all around the world to draw attention to the impacts of homophobia and transphobia on the sexual and gender minorities. IDAHOT has transformed over the last 10 years. It has not only been celebrated by various stakeholders; from grassroots organisations and religious leaders to government officials and intergovernmental organisations such as the United Nations, but also has become a global call to action against violence and discrimination faced by LGBTI community.

GHRD marked IDAHOT together with its partner Bandhu Social Welfare Society (BSWS); one of the foremost Bangladeshi organization working on sexual health rights of vulnerable and stigmatized groups. BSWS, in collaboration with GHRD, organised series of activities to celebrate IDAHOT 2014 nationwide.

Discrimination and violence against sexual and gender minorities remain pervasive in Bangladesh. Therefore, BSWS aimed to provide a platform for various stakeholders to challenge the serious consequences of homophobia and transphobia in the country through various actions. BSWS held screening events for Community Based Organisations in Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Comilla districts. BSWS screened “Will this change?”; a film that aims to bring about attitudinal change by sensitizing the audience and generate a positive dialogue between the advocacy groups, LGBT community and public at large. The screenings were followed by discussions about discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the importance of IDAHOT.

The awareness raising events continued with HIM members. HIM is a “Youth Corner” established by BSWS for young MSM (male who have sex with males) and transgender community[1]. HIM initiative enables a safe and sympathetic atmosphere for sexual and gender minorities and also offers a professional support to these communities. HIM members joined screening events and discussed issues surrounding “coming out” as sexual and gender minorities.

IDAHOT activities ended with an event organised for the members of Human Rights Alliance Bangladesh (HRAB)[2]. HRAB is a national platform - formed by local civil society organisations (CSOs) with the support of GHRD - to advocate for the rights of marginalised groups in Bangladesh with a collective voice. HRAB is a broad umbrella group which involves CSOs with different target groups; indigenous people, religious minorities and LGBT community. The event addressed the need of CSOs to be sensitized to the human rights concerns involved in LGBT advocacy[3]. The events were successful in drawing attention to the consequences of homophobia and transphobia and mobilising the community opinion for future change.