In a significant step forward for sexual minorities in Bangladesh, the country’s first LGBTQI Bengali-language magazine ‘Roopbaan’ (after a local folk-tale character who went to extraordinary lengths for love) has been launched. While talking to Dhaka Tribune, the editor shared the excitement over this launch: ‘The main reason for publishing this magazine is to promote love and the right to love. In today’s disturbed socio-political context, the audience such a publication promoting love is huge and that’s whom this is for.’ The high-profile, invite-only launch of the 56-page first edition on Saturday, January 18, 2014 was attended by the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Robert Gibson, who contextualized it with the recent re-criminalization of homosexuality in neighboring India.
Like India and Pakistan in British-ruled South Asia, Bangladesh has also inherited a colonial-era anti-sodomy law making gay sex punishable with fines and imprisonment of 10 years to life. Although, the launch generated positive reactions from the international LGBTQI community, an activist remarked that there is a severe backlash from the radical conservative sections of the Bangladeshi society which is deeply traditional in its approach towards the issues of gender and sexuality.
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