Bangladesh: Discrimination and Hate Speech Targeted Against Homosexuals and Transgender Individuals by Political Leaders

Bangladesh: Discrimination and Hate Speech Targeted Against Homosexuals and Transgender Individuals by Political Leaders
Love is love flag for support of LGBTQ rights. © 42 North, 30th July, 2018, via Pexels, at


Pauliina Majasaari

Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

On February 4, the Opposition Chief Whip of the National Parliament and the General Secretary of the Jatiya Party, Mujibul Haque Chunnu, demanded that two lines from a seventh-grade textbook be removed as they were deemed controversial with Islam. According to him, the sole aim of including transgenderism in a school textbook was to create social chaos by impairing traditional social values. Additionally, in December 2023, during the campaigning for the National Parliament election, a Chief Whip of the former opposition party in the National Parliament, Moshiur Rahman Ranga, made deeply offensive and derogatory comments on Facebook about transgender individuals, stating they are not human.

Various other incidents have taken place where members of major political parties in Bangladesh have made derogatory and discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals. Additionally, findings have been made of physical and sexual abuse conducted by members of political parties towards gay men, bisexual men, and transgender women. Such actions by the political parties are deeply rooted in religion, accepted social conduct, and traditional cultural values. As Bangladesh is a highly conservative and religious country, matters such as gender diversity and sexual orientation are often taboo and seen as unacceptable. Exceptionally, ‘Hijras,’ individuals born male or intersex who identify as female and dress in female clothing, have a broadly accepted cultural role in Bangladesh, conducting positive rituals in society, such as blessing babies. Apart from ‘Hijras,’ other sexual and gender minorities are not able to express their identity freely. As such, the law of Bangladesh prohibits and criminalises sexual acts between men under Section 377 of the Penal Code. Moreover, the presence of social and cultural opposition towards the LGBTQI community leads to a life of fear, exclusion, and marginalisation from society.

Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which holds customary status, ensures that the rights contained in it are present for all, without distinction, such as sex or other status. According to Article 3 of the UDHR, everyone has the right to security of person and according to Article 7 of the UDHR, everyone has the right to equal protection against discrimination and against any kind of incitement to discrimination. The acts of the political parties in Bangladesh are violating, above all, Article 2 of the UDHR, as some of the rights within the UDHR are not realised for individuals within the LGBTQI community, for the reason that they hold other status, and their sex and sexuality are different from what is accepted as the norm in Bangladesh. Furthermore, Article 3 is violated as the acts of hate speech and derogatory comments made by politicians lead to individuals of the LGBTQI community feeling unsafe and insecure in the society they live in. Additionally, their right to security is undermined as the individuals are targeted by harassment and violence which the police do little or nothing about. Lastly, the right under Article 7 of the UDHR is not respected as homosexual and transgender individuals face discrimination based on their sexuality and gender, as well as the comments made by political leaders can be seen as inciting discrimination towards such individuals, which shows that they are not receiving protection from discrimination by the state. Even though the state would be able to protect the individuals, it is unwilling to offer proper protection.

Thereby, the government of Bangladesh is urged by separate international actors to change its attitudes and perceptions of individuals part of the LGBTQI community and provide equal rights for them, in order to comply with the customary standards within the UDHR. Furthermore, Bangladesh is asked to start protecting LGBTQI individuals from discrimination coming from either state or non-state actors as well as recognise the equal rights of the sexual minorities and to repeal its law which criminalises sex between two men.

Sources and further readings:

  1. Advocate Shahanur Islam, ‘STATEMENT: JMBF Condemns Discriminatory Actions Against LGBT Individuals by Major Political Parties in Bangladesh’ (JusticeMakers Bangladesh in France, February 26th 2024) <> accessed March 4th 2024.
  2. Geoffrey Macdonald, ’Understanding the Lives of Bangladesh’s LGBTI Community’ (International Republican Institute, April 8th 2021) <> accessed March 4th 2024.
  3. Human Rights Watch, ‘Bangladesh: Events of 2023’ <> accessed March 5th 2024.
  4. Home Office, ’Country Policy and Information Note: Bangladesh: Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression’ (June 20th 2023) <> accessed March 5th 2024.