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Workshop on Rights, Sexual Health and LGBT related National and International Laws

We are happy to inform you that three of us (Mahdi, Ashish, Rifat,) were attended the workshop as nominees from BoB on Right, Sexual Health and LGBT related National & International Laws, organized by SAHARA Bangladesh on 12 November, 2012.

The workshop was really interesting. Though there were some very hard topics to understand, the presenters tried their best to make it easy for us.

While Mohammed Iqbal Hossain introduced us to everybody, Premangshu Sherkhar Sarker helped us to go through the ground rules for the workshop. It is quite interesting that despite we made those rules for ourselves, we have actually broke some of them – it was fun!)

The focus area of the workshop started by Sanaiyya Fahim Ansari, who is a Sr. Deputy Director, Gender and Social Justice Unit, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Her presentation started with a story, after which we had to answer to a question. I was confused of what will I answer, but at the end, it was great.

There was an old woman and a doctor waiting at a bus stop while it was raining cats and dogs. The old woman was very sick. You are driving a car and you saw them. What will you do? Suddenly you saw the person whom you (Love) dreamed about, standing next to the doctor. Unfortunately the doctor was the person who saved your life once and the oddest thing is that, you are driving a two seated car and you can pick only one. Which one will you pick?
14 participants of the workshop answered, they would pick the old woman because she deserved to be the first one. 3 participants answered they would pick their loved one. One person chooses the doctor because he saved her life once. Punom, who is a journalist, answered that, she will stay with her loved one in the bus stop while the doctor drives the old woman to her home. So that she can enjoy her time and also help others.

I’m not going to judge anyone about their decision, because everyone deserved to make his/her own choice. But it’s better to make one which helps each of us and in the same time helps the people in your society. That’s the best one.

Before she starts her main topic about human rights, Madam Sanaiyya asked us to draw a tree and name every leaf with what type of rights we can get from the government. With three groups, we draw three trees and she helped us to understand which is a basic right and which one is human rights.

As a human, we deserved 25 rights from the government. (Laws will be published here as soon as I get a copy). She also discussed the 3 major rights which were, Respect – Protect – Fulfill. As human beings, we deserve respect from government whoever we are. Government must protect the peoples of the country and fulfill their basic needs.

The last session was run by Premangshu Sherkhar Sarker, who is a Sr. Officer- Legal, Bandhu Social Welfare Society. He discussed about the national law, human rights in Bangladesh, advocacy help for LGBT community, types of harassment that LGBT peoples faced. He also discussed about Act 377, Metropolitan Police Ordinance 1976 and some other rules that used to harass LGBT people.

In that session, Premangshu shared some experience with us. There is a law called Sunset Act (something like that), in which police can arrest anyone between sunset to sunrise on the road, if they are suspicious about the person. Once, he was himself arrested for 2 hours just to walk on the road in the middle of the night in Rajshahi. It happened in 2011. There were also few other experiences shared by Shurovi Hizra, Boby Hizra. I wish I had a recorder to record them. Hopefully I’ll have one next time.

The discussion was very nice and it helped us a lot to get the accurate information about the national and international law. It also gave us a clearer image about the current situation of Bangladeshi LGBT community.

Written by
Mahmood Al Mahdi

For handout from the workshop, please click here.