Bangladesh Celebrates International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO)

By Tanvir Alim

Boys of Bangladesh’ celebrated IDAHO with an interactive discussion with the civil society

In cooperation with Alliance Français de Dhaka, Boys of Bangladesh has organized a film program and discussion on IDAHO to celebrate unity in spirit and diversity in expressions. The program started with a small welcome note from the deputy director of French Courses and Training M. Jérôme Charbonneau. Later it offered a French film “You will get over it” directed by Fabrice Cazeneuve which was released in 2002. The screening followed an interactive discussion on why gay community is so stigmatized, and why there is this culture of collective denial.

In the discussion there were issues like coming out-is it important or it’s just a private issue. A heterosexual does not come out to his parents so why do it is expected that a homosexual should come out. Participants commented that there is no point to drum around on this issue in our culture but a gay in Bangladesh can come out to some certain sensible and reliable persons like close friends or cousins if they feel like sharing their special feelings and all that.

There were also discussion on social pressure for marriage and its consequences. Participants talked about gay relationship and its durability. Later they come to a conclusion that instead of time period, it should be judgmental by the quality of the relationship.

There were discussions on the portrait of sexual minority in Indian films as well as how Christianity recognized homosexuality in other cultures.

Among the participants, there were members from the civil society, Human Rights Officer from US Embassy Dhaka and representatives from Royal Norwegian Embassy. Boys of Bangladesh, popularly known as BoB, is the oldest and the largest network of self-identified Bangladeshi gay men from Bangladesh. Based in Dhaka, this non-registered, non-funded and non-formal group is run by a pool of volunteers. In 2008, BoB observed the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) for the first time at a cafe in Dhaka. It was the first event where BoB appeared openly as a gay group with the acknowledgment of the venue authority. The group is looking forward to similar discussion programs and workshops to create more public awareness in near future.

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