The International Day Against Homophobia marches on
With the world set to mark the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, the sad state of affairs for the LGBT community around the world can be epitomized by last month’s murder of Xulhaz Mannan, the founder of Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine.
Mannan, 35, was killed by a group of assailants reportedly armed with machetes and guns in an attack in the capital.
The gang posed as couriers in order to gain access to his apartment and killed his friend, Tonoy Mahbub, as well.
International Day Against Homophobia: A murder in Bangladesh
Mannan, 35, was one of the founders of Roopban, the country’s only LGBT magazine.
He also worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and helped organize an annual rally for LGBT youths called ‘The Rainbow Rally’ on April 14, The Bengali New Year.
Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia director, said: “Bangladeshi authorities have a legal responsibility to protect and respect the right to life. They must urgently focus their energies on protecting those who express their opinions bravely and without violence, and bringing the killers to justice.”
Currently, the police have arrested last Sunday a suspect who is believed to have been involved in Mannan and Mahbub’s murders.
The suspect, Shariful Islan Shihab, 37, was a former member of Harkatul Jihad, a banned Islamic group, reports the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, the Islamist militant group Al-Queda claimed responsibility for the two killings.
The facts behind the International Day Against Homophobia
First established in 2004, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was created to draw attention to the violence and discrimination against LGBT people around the world.
May 17 was marked to commemorate this date as the World Health Organization first declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder on this same day in 1990.
Presently, 78 countries consider homosexuality as illegal while seven punish homosexuality with the death penalty. 113 countries meanwhile have laws that allow homophobia.
However, 18 years after this day was first established, progress has been made worldwide as 14 countries recognize civil partnerships for same-sex couples while 17 countries allow same-sex marriages.
Twenty countries consider sexual orientation to be a motivation for hate crimes while 24 countries prohibit incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Support for the International Day Against Homophobia
More importantly, there is still some good news to go around the world.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they will be moving forward with new legislation to protect the rights of transgender Canadians.
“I am proud to announce that tomorrow, on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we will be tabling a bill in the House of Commons to ensure the full protection of transgender people,” Trudeau said.
Meanwhile, Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and director of Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education led a march for the International Day in Havana on Saturday.
“The Cuban people are prepared to advance themselves,” said Mariela Castro before the march began.
Cuba, with the help of Mariela Castro, is currently opening up not only to the world but also to its own LGBT community.
On a lighter note, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon of the United Nations was among those who appeared alongside international LGBT activists in a video created by Free and Equal, an LGBT rights campaign by the United Nations Human Rights Office.
In the video, which features Rachel Platten’s pop hit “Fight Song,” Ki-Moon held a sign that reads, “End Violence And Discrimination Against LGBT People.”
Other activists from India, China, Uganda, Lebanon, Jamaica, Japan, and the UK were also in the video holding their own signs.
All of these efforts highlight the fact that the global LGBT struggle continues despite the worst efforts of those who would deny LGBT people the basic human rights.
On a closing note, you can check out the video marking the International Day Against Homophobia below: