Boys of Bangladesh (BoB), Roopbaan, as well as some individuals as a voluntary contribution, conducted a survey to scale the current needs of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community of Bangladesh, devise a strategy plan to move forward in materializing those needs, identify the challenges faced by community members and put forward some possible suggestions to overcome those challenges.
BoB is the oldest and the largest network of self-identified Bangladeshi gay men from home and abroad. It is a non-registered and non-profit organization run by a pool of volunteers aiming to bring the LGB community together and advocate for their social, political and legal rights.
Roopbaan is a Bangladeshi not-for-profit, non-political, volunteer-based platform for people who believe in the freedom and human rights to love. Besides publishing Roopbaan – The Fagazine, it organizes various events to promote its mission and vision.
The survey conducted is the first of its kind where 571 self-identified LGB individuals from across the country participated. The survey aimed to obtain robust and comparable data that would allow a better understanding of the LGB community in Bangladesh. Another objective of the survey was to successfully gauge the opinions and expectations of the members of the community before the community as a whole could embark on any large-scale public awareness campaign for LGB rights in Bangladesh.
The survey data was collected through an anonymous questionnaire which was filled by the participants both online and manually. It collected views, perceptions, opinions, and experiences of individuals aged 18 years or over who identified as being lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The topics covered were related to various issues with an emphasis on sexual identity, cultural and religious factors, legal awareness and accessibility, experienced discrimination, and community belongingness and vision.
The key findings of this survey indicate a generally positive attitude of the LGB community members in Bangladesh with regards to mobilizing the community to work towards a social and legal change by creating awareness about diverse sexualities and issues related to it. The findings also indicate an urgent need for psycho-social and legal support for many LGB individuals who are at high risk of abuse and harassment.
Some of the recommendations provided by the research based on the findings include:
- Mobilizing the young middle-class LGB community members to bring about social, legal, and political changes by organizing social awareness campaigns
- Setting-up of psycho-social counseling support centers or groups for individuals at high-risk of self-harm due to their sexual orientation and gender identity
- Working towards a cultural shift from the stress on heternormative relationships and marriage
- Striving for legal reform by repealing outdated laws such as BPC 377 and incorporating new laws that take diverse sexualities, genders, expressions and the rights associated into account
- Setting-up of legal centers or groups where LGB individuals facing abuse or harassment may seek help
- Incorporating sex-education in schools, colleges and universities to raise awareness on sexuality and gender and address all kinds of harassment, including bullying, due to one’s perceived sexual orientation and/or social constructs of gender
- Setting up of a research and documentation center in Dhaka to document magazine and newspaper articles, research work, and events related to the LGB movement in Bangladesh. A research center of this kind may offer support to the legal and psycho-social support centers working for the LGB community.