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Rakesh K. grew up in Rajshahi city. He told Human Rights Watch that he did not remember when he first realized he was sexually attracted to men but that as long as he has been alive and aware he has known that he was somehow different from others. He said that when he was twelve or thirteen, other kothis (boys or men who identify themselves as female or feminine) convinced him to join them in occasionally selling sex for spare money and that he had engaged in part-time sex work since that time. At fifteen, he was gang-raped and beaten by fourteen mastans. He said that several of the mastans urinated on his anus after ejaculating.

I cried, said please stop. But they all did it, and none paid . . . . One kothi was also with me, but had run. That kothi later came back, saw me lying down, and brought me to his mother’s house. I stayed there an entire night and day, and used hot water to ease the pain . . . . When I came home, I was still sick. I told my family I had diarrhea . . . . I was afraid to tell them [what happened] because if they knew I had sex with men they could kill me.

Rakesh K. was twenty when Human Rights Watch spoke to him in December 2002. He was in the tenth standard at school because his family had kept him out of school for a few years when he was young. He said that he liked school but that he did not attend regularly because his classmates treated him badly, calling him names and poking fun at him.

He said he was raped frequently by both police and mastans. He explained that at night, police often demanded sex on the spot, and that in the daytime, police would demand that he come to a certain place at a certain time for the purpose of sex. The officers would threaten to find and arrest him if he did not come. He said that he had once broken one of these imposed appointments, and that indeed the officer found him and beat him. He also stated that police “have very rough sex.”

One night in December 2002, Rakesh K. had gone to the bank of the Padma River to sell sex. A police officer abducted him and brought him from the riverbank to a police barracks, where four officers raped him. He said that he pleaded with the officers, stating that he could not have sex with so many people, but they forced him nonetheless. He was bleeding after the incident but did not visit the doctor because, he said, “the doctor would ask questions.”

He also said that mastans forced him to have sex approximately four to five times per month in the months before meeting with Human Rights Watch. He said that mastans usually would rape him in groups of two or three and also would take his money. In September 2002, five mastans attacked him, demanding his valuables. When they found he did not have anything, one mastan began to beat him. Another mastan pushed him into a pond nearby and he escaped by swimming to the other side.

After becoming involved with an AIDS prevention organization working with men who have sex with men, he asked some of the police officers who forced him to have sex to use condoms. The officers refused. One officer’s reply revealed his lack of awareness about the health risks associated with male-to-male sex: “I’m not having sex with your sister—why should I use a condom with a boy?”

He had never filed a complaint about any of the abuses he suffered. He found the idea surprising: “Who would I complain to?” Rakesh K. had heard that in San Francisco there was a neighborhood where men who have sex with men could live without fear or abuse. He said “kothis want a place like San Francisco.”181

Rakesh K.’s experiences are similar to those of many of the men who have sex with men (MSM) who spoke with Human Rights Watch. Like women sex workers, men who have sex with men are abducted, raped, physically assaulted, and subject to extortion by police and mastans. Men who have sex with men are sometimes arrested and abused without being charged with any crime. They have no effective means of lodging official complaints about the abuses they experience. The police also sometimes harass, beat, and arrest men engaging in HIV/AIDS outreach work. Moreover, men who have sex with men are discriminated against by the wider society: turned away from jobs and harassed at school. An old colonial law against “carnal intercourse” is interpreted to criminalize men who have sex with men. These violations stem from and result in a subjugated, subhuman status for this group of people while simultaneously undermining Bangladesh’s capacity to fight an emerging AIDS epidemic.

In Bangladesh, the term “men who have sex with men” encompasses individuals with a range of gender identities. Hijras, for example, take on feminine behavior and dress; they often live in distinct communities, and many undergo castration.182 Most of the men interviewed by Human Rights Watch identified themselves as kothis. Kothis also generally take on feminine mannerisms but usually do not live in distinct communities. Reliable information about the lives of men who have sex with men is difficult to obtain, in part because of the great social stigma that they face. Some experts have reported that a significant proportion of kothis engage in sex work either occasionally or as their primary source of income.183 One study conducted by Naz Foundation International of 124 kothis from four cities in Bangladesh drew a causal link between the prevalence of sex work among kothis and poverty: “Sex work is often not a matter of choice, but of economic necessity.” The study reported that economic need, in turn, was driven by discrimination. Seventy-seven percent of those interviewed, for example, stated “that if they were not kothi[s] they would have found it easier to find work, or would be doing better in their present employment.”184

Another term, panthi, has been used to refer to men who generally take on masculine demeanor and are sometimes “clients” of kothis who sell sex or partners of kothis in relationships that do not involve paying for sex. Some NGO and academic observers have suggested that panthis are more diffuse, less visible, and generally not connected by a collective identity.185 Some AIDS intervention efforts have therefore focused on kothis as a way of reaching the wider men who have sex with men population.186 Several leaders and members of organizations of men who have sex with men emphasized that identities like kothi and panthi are fluid and flexible.187

Sexual Violence and Other Physical Abuse

Numerous men who have sex with men who spoke with Human Rights Watch reported being raped, gang-raped, and beaten frequently by police and mastans. Thirty-year-old Kajal J. reported that he was gang-raped by three police officers in November 2002, and that police gang-raped him about nine other times in 2002. Kajal J. also told Human Rights Watch of a beating he suffered in mid-2002. “A policeman grabbed me by the sari I was wearing. When I tried to release myself, the policeman got angry and beat me badly. I missed a week of work because of the incident.”188

Rafiq F., twenty-five, who said he makes his living from sex work, estimated that in late 2002 police beat him two to three times per month on the back of his legs and other parts of his body. He said the beatings were often accompanied by insults. “Police say to me, ‘You are doing a bad job’; ‘You are a bastard’; ‘You are a hijra’; ‘Your parents are both bastards’ and such things.” He also said that mastans raped him two to three times per month in late 2002, and that “[t]hey almost always beat me when they rape me.”189 Rafiq F. said that in October 2002, he agreed to have sex with five mastans. He thought he would be paid, but instead the mastans beat him and made him squat repeatedly while holding his ears, a gesture that commonly symbolizes shame in South Asia. He said that the mastans also spat and forced him to lick up their spit. They checked all his pockets for money and then let him go.190

In September 2002, seventeen-year-old Mohammad H. was arrested by police, taken to a police camp and, from there, to a sugar cane field where four people raped him. “I thought that I could not continue and feared a fifth person would rape me so I ran away. I was completely naked. I had to go to my house by [way of] the outside of town.” A month later, in October 2002, Mohammad H. was abducted and gang-raped by police again. He was waiting in a public area to meet a client when a police officer picked him up and brought him to a police camp. At the camp, five policemen raped him and then beat him. Mohammad H. said he was gang-raped by police officers at least ten times between December 2001 and December 2002 and estimated that during the same period police officers beat him about three to four times per month. He said mastans often beat him and raped him as well. He recounted an incident from mid-2002 in which he was attacked by six or seven mastans. He said the mastans took what little money he had, and proceeded to “cut my shirt with a knife and then beat me and rape me. I started crying and they beat me some more and told me that they would beat me more when I cried.”191

All of the rapes of men who have sex with men reported to Human Rights Watch were committed without condoms.

Extortion and Theft

Men who have sex with men also reported that they were regularly subjected to extortion by both police and mastans. Mohammad H., for example, stated that “mastans often rob me at knifepoint at the riverbank cruising area and sometimes steal my shirt . . . . this happens two to three times per week.”192 Several men who have sex with men also told Human Rights Watch that when they were unwilling or unable to produce the desired cash or valuables, they often faced violence. In October 2002, seven to eight mastans came to Kajal J. and asked him for money. He refused. He was then beaten by a stick broken from a tree and knocked unconscious. He said: “When I woke up, I found my money was gone.”193

Akhil K. related an incident of police extortion and violence from 2000. He said that he was on the way home from having sex with a client when police stopped him and asked him how much money he had. He responded that he had 20 Tk. [U.S.$0.34]. The police insisted that he had more. Akhil K. called a few other kothis to come and observe the police officers’ actions. The police were carrying collapsible nightsticks. When the officers thrust the sticks forward, opening them to their full length, the kothis ran. Akhil K. said that “the cops caught us and took our money and beat us. I was injured seriously enough that I had to stay away from home for seven days because I was afraid my parents would notice my injuries and ask me what had happened.” Like several other men who have sex with men with whom Human Rights Watch spoke, Akhil K. was afraid that his family would condemn him.194

Men who engaged in sex work reported that police and mastans also extorted money from their clients. This extortion from clients can place the men selling sex in danger as well. Thirty-one-year-old Mathur H. said that once in August 2002, when he met a client for sex, a police officer approached the two of them and demanded money from the client. Mathur H. objected. He said that the officer then “beat my entire body with a policeman’s stick.” When the beating was over he was bleeding from his elbows, back, and shoulder. He said that his friends took him to the hospital where he spent one and a half months. He said that he received stitches under his right eye, and that his vision was impaired for three months after the incident. He showed Human Rights Watch researchers scars from the incident on his arm and his shin.195

Thirty-three-year-old Suliman M., who said he worked both as a sex worker and as an AIDS peer educator, described to Human Rights Watch one method of mastan theft. He said that mastans often follow a male sex worker and a client from a cruising place and hide nearby. When the pair begin to have sex, the mastans appear. “They take money from kothis and panthis; they sometimes cut us with a knife. They also beat with sticks.” Suliman M. recounted one such incident from December 2002. He said that while he was having sex with a client, a mastan approached pretending that he (the mastan) was a police officer. The mastan stabbed Suliman M. and took his jewelry and money.196

Arbitrary Arrests

Prohibitions on sex work, such as those found in the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Act, apply equally to men and women.197 However, Human Rights Watch was not told of any instance in which a man who has sex with men who engaged in sex work was formally charged or sentenced under the DMPA or any other law prohibiting sex work. Men who have sex with men did report having been arrested, but these arrests usually took place under section 54 and did not lead to criminal charges or prosecution but rather to some of the same abuses discussed above, such as extortion and physical assault. Kajal J. recounted to Human Rights Watch that in December 2002, the army and the police jointly raided a cruising area in Dhaka. He said he was arrested and taken into police custody with two other kothis, and that all three of them were seriously beaten. Kajal J. said he was beaten on his back and his buttocks and that he was released after five hours.198

Mohammad H. reported one incident that occurred when he was walking home from a cruising area with another kothi at 5:00 a.m. He said that a police officer approached him without saying anything, beat him, and then put him in a police cart and brought him to the station. “The police gave no reason for the arrest . . . . I couldn’t protest because when I said anything, the police just beat me more.” He said he was later told that the arrest was under section 54.199 He reported that a similar incident occurred another night shortly after midnight—he was walking down the street, and police beat him and arrested him under section 54. He noted:

Some police really hate hijras and men who have sex with men. They create problems for us. If they see any hijra or MSM, they arrest us and start to beat us. . . . When I talk, my voice is a bit female and when I walk, I walk like a hijra, and that is why the police arrest me.200

Rafiq F. reported being arrested in October 2002. The arresting officers demanded a bribe or sex; because Rafiq F. had no money and refused to have sex, the officers beat him.

I was having sex with a client next to the riverbank. During sex, five policemen arrested me and the client. The client paid and got released immediately. At first police asked me for money, but I had no money so I couldn’t give them any. Then they asked for sex but I refused, so they beat me all over the body . . . . [afterward] I was sick with fever for two days.201

No Means for Redress

Like women sex workers, the men who have sex with men with whom Human Rights Watch spoke were generally incredulous at the idea of bringing an official complaint about police or mastan abuse. After Mohammad H. related the incident in which he was arrested, was gang-raped by four people, and had to flee the scene naked, Human Rights Watch asked him whether he had told anyone about the incident. “Tell anyone?,” he asked, “who would I tell?” Mohammad H. expected only prejudice and indifference from the police: “If I go to the police with a complaint, they will just say ‘you are a hijra, so why are you making a complaint?’”202 Rafiq F. said that he did not file any complaint after mastans beat him and forced him to lick their spit. He said that in fact he never complained about mastans. “I never made any complaints because the mastans would just spread the word that I am a prominent MSM and then things would be worse for me.”203

Rehman M., twenty-eight, described one experience that embodied for him both the state’s indifference to crime and the fearful power that mastans can wield. He said that in November 2002, BNP-affiliated mastans demanded money from him in plain view of police officers. He refused, and the mastans stabbed him with a knife. He approached the police officers nearby but they told him: “We can’t do anything.” The officers directed him to file a case at the police station: “Otherwise,” they said, “we won’t do anything.” Rehman M. said that he “was very afraid because the police were watching when it happened. Their refusal to act frightened me. I could see the power of the mastans, and so I didn’t go [to file a complaint].”204

Mathur H. also attempted to register a complaint after a police officer beat him with a police stick so badly that he was hospitalized for one and a half months. He said that the police listened to him, but did not act. He also said that he complained about the same beating to other residents of his village. Asked whether this second complaint amounted to anything, he replied, “The police neglect us, so what will the villagers do?” He concluded: “Everyone neglects us; we don’t get any justice from anywhere.”205

Interference with Efforts to Combat HIV/AIDS

In addition to the risks of police and mastan violence, men who have sex with men are at high risk of HIV transmission. AIDS awareness and outreach among men who have sex with men is an important part of any fight against AIDS.206 All the abuses documented here—rape, abduction, beatings, extortion, arbitrary arrest—undermine Bangladesh’s capacity to address the AIDS epidemic. These abuses decrease the control that men who have sex with men have over their lives. They alienate these men from society, rendering them more difficult to reach with information and other means of prevention and care.207

The police deal a direct blow to Bangladesh’s anti-AIDS efforts by actively, often violently, interfering with AIDS outreach work among men who have sex with men. As with women sex workers, peer education is one of the most important ways of reaching these marginalized persons. Thirty-year-old Ali L., who had worked as a peer educator for four years, described some of his outreach work to Human Rights Watch: “When I go to the cruising spot, I sell condoms, show [others] how to use them, educate them about HIV/AIDS and STDs. If someone asks me why they should use condoms then I explain to them why.”208 In June 2002 police officers approached a cruising spot where he was working. Other kothis scattered, but Ali L. said he stayed where he was. He described to Human Rights Watch the events that followed:

The police caught me and hit me. They didn’t even give me a chance to explain. They hit me with a cane, with their gun, they kicked me and slapped me and pulled my hair and pulled on my collar and the waistline of my pants. They called me sala [wife’s younger brother; an epithet], motherfucker, bastard. They said that I was a sex worker. I said I was working for HIV/AIDS prevention. They asked to see my ID card but I had forgotten it that day. They took me to jail. After I promised that I would never go to cruising spots again, they let me go.209

Ali. L. concluded that this kind of police violence “creates a big problem for condom distribution. The police think we promote sex work.”210

Monir Chowdhury had worked as the manager of a drop-in center for men who have sex with men for five years. He supervised twelve peer educators and four social organizers. Chowdhury told Human Rights Watch that in September 2002 he went to a cruising spot near the airport in Dhaka to supervise his peer educators.

I went inside and three police caught me. I explained my duty, that I work for an HIV/AIDS prevention program, and that this is permitted by the government. But they said I have to go to the thana [police station]. I showed my ID card but he threw away my card and said come to the police station. So many times I told him I was a social worker. I called my boss when I got to the police station and he came. I was arrested at six p.m. and finally they let me go at midnight.211

Suliman M. told Human Rights Watch that while he was on duty as a peer educator, sometimes police officers would take condoms from him and throw them away. In October 2002, “a police officer stopped me. I showed him that I was distributing condoms. The cop told me to go home and not come there any more.”212

Social Stigma

Abuses against outreach workers as well as abuses against the general population of men who have sex with men reflect broader social attitudes that stigmatize men who have sex with men in many aspects of their lives. One of the most consequential of these is the job market. Suliman M., for example, said that he is a good cook, but that no one would employ him because he is effeminate.213 Kajal J. identified employment discrimination as one of the reasons he engaged in sex work:

Employers are biased against effeminate men and so kothis can’t get work outside of sex work. I support six people on my income as a kothi, including my wife, father, mother, brother and sister. I make 1500-2000 Tk. [U.S.$25.86-34.48] in a week. If I could work at a better job, I would. I want to live as a good man. My body’s need, which is god-given, is to have sex with other men. If I could have another income, that would be good.214

Several men who have sex with men reported experiencing harassment at school. Mohammad H. told Human Rights Watch that harassment from his classmates was a strong part of what led him to leave school altogether. “I didn’t like going to school. Classmates called me names like hijra and other mean things.” Asked whether he complained about this abuse to anyone, Mohammad H. noted: “All of my classmates said the same things to me so it was difficult to stop everyone’s mouth. How could I complain about so many people making fun of me?” But at one point, he did tell his teacher about the teasing. “The teacher punished the boys but then things just got worse for me, as the kids got even more angry. . . . Ultimately, I just stopped going to school.” He was fourteen and in eighth standard when he stopped attending school.215 Rafiq F. also left school during eighth standard, “because economic conditions were not good . . . and because I didn’t feel comfortable at school as other boys teased me a lot.”216

Mohammad H. said that after he was gang-raped by mastans in mid-2002, he was bleeding from the rectum. He said he did not go to see a doctor, however, “because then I would have to tell [the doctor] what happened.”217 Mohammad H., who was seventeen years old, noted other ways in which he had experienced discrimination:

Other boys won’t play football or cricket with me but just call me names like hijra. I can’t get a job. Even if I wanted to do a little job, like cooking in a restaurant, the hotel owner won’t accept me because they say I have sex with other men and that is against Islam. Also I can’t attend social gatherings because I am teased and called hijra.218

Section 377 of the Penal Code

Bangladesh and India inherited the same penal code from the British colonial administration. Section 377 of both the Bangladeshi and Indian penal codes is titled “Of Unnatural Offences” and reads, in part: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”219 In India, some legal authorities have interpreted this provision to criminalize male-to-male sex. A charge under section 377 was among the charges lodged when police arrested four AIDS outreach workers in Lucknow in July 2001.220 As of this writing, a constitutional challenge to section 377 is before the Delhi High Court.221

Human Rights Watch did not document any police or government invocations of section 377 in Bangladesh. Most of the arrests recounted to Human Rights Watch were brought under section 54. Whether or not the law is enforced, however, it may effectively criminalize the status of being a kothi or any man who has sex with men. The perception by the police and by society that men who have sex with men are inherently criminal fuels attacks on their dignity and the denial of their equality before the law. A report published by the Bangladesh Ministry of Law, “Mapping Exercise on HIV/AIDS- Law, Ethics and Human Rights,” stated that male sex workers and hijras consulted for the report argued that the section “exists only to be used by the police to victimize gay and bisexual men whom they catch in public areas with a motive to extort money and blackmail.” The report concluded that “Section 377 of the Penal Code violates [the] constitutionally protected right to privacy under the expanded definition of right to life and personal liberty (article 32).”222 To the extent that section 377 discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, it is in violation of international human rights law.223

181 Human Rights Watch interview with Rakesh K., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

182 See, for example, Therese Blanchet, Lost Innocence, Stolen Childhoods (Dhaka: University Press Limited, 1996), pp. 33-34.

183 One organization that works with men who have sex with men conducted interviews of 130 self-identified kothis in Dhaka. The resulting study reported that 26 percent of those interviewed worked exclusively as sex workers while about 52 percent of those interviewed combined sex work with either a job or a small business. Kamrun Ahsan, Organization of Development Program for the Underprivileged (ODPUP), “Knowledge and Practices on Sexual Health of Men Having Sex with Men Community in Uttara and Tongi, Dhaka,” September 2000, p. 12. The author of the study originally intended to interview a random sample of kothis, but found that many kothis were “difficult to find” and others were “not comfortable to discuss and give a formal interview at [their] dwelling[s].” He ended up choosing the sample based on who was available to be interviewed. Ibid., p. 8. The author’s methodological difficulties are reflective of the stigma faced by men who have sex with men and also limit the generalizability of the findings. Another observer, who conducted a qualitative review of HIV/AIDS programs for men who have sex with men in Bangladesh, stated about kothis: “These (usually) young men are often to be found in the parks of Dhaka selling sex to (usually) older men.” Gary Dowsett, “Men who have sex with men in Bangladesh,” Pukaar 27 [online], (retrieved February 12, 2003), p. 3.

184 Aditya Bondyopadhyay, Naz Foundation International, “Social justice, human rights, and MSM,” Briefing Paper No. 7, obtained from author, November 2002, pp. 7-8.

185 Kamrun Ahsan, ODPUP, “Knowledge and Practices on Sexual Health of Men Having Sex with Men Community in Uttara and Tongi, Dhaka,” p. 5; Gary Dowsett, “Men who have sex with men in Bangladesh,” pp. 3-4; Aditya Bondyopadhyay, Naz Foundation International, “Social justice, human rights, and MSM,” p. 6.

186 Kamrun Ahsan, ODPUP, “Knowledge and Practices on Sexual Health of Men Having Sex with Men Community in Uttara and Tongi, Dhaka,” p. 5; Gary Dowsett, “Men who have sex with men in Bangladesh,” pp. 3-4; Aditya Bondyopadhyay, Naz Foundation International, “Social justice, human rights, and MSM,” p. 6.

187 Human Rights Watch interviews with leaders and members of organizations of men who have sex with men: Dhaka, December 11, 2002; Rajshahi, December 19, 2002; Sylhet, December 24, 2002. One sign of the malleability of these terms of identification is that in Bangladesh, some of those who have been in contact with HIV/AIDS interventions have come to refer to themselves and each other by the English acronym MSM, as in, “are you MSM?” Human Rights Watch interviews with members of organizations of men who have sex with men, Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

188 Human Rights Watch interview with Kajal J., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

189 Human Rights Watch interview with Rafiq F., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

190 Ibid.

191 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad H., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

192 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad H., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

193 Human Rights Watch interview with Kajal J., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

194 Human Rights Watch interview with Akhil K., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

195 Human Rights Watch interview with Mathur H., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

196 Human Rights Watch interview with Suliman M., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

197 The DMPA prohibits the buying or selling of sex in public. Bangladeshi law on sex work is discussed in the chapter on abuses against women sex workers.

198 Human Rights Watch interview with Kajal J., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

199 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad H., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

200 Ibid.

201 Human Rights Watch interview with Rafiq F., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

202 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad H., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

203 Human Rights Watch interview with Rafiq F., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

204 Human Rights Watch interview with Rehman M., Sylhet, December 24, 2002.

205 Human Rights Watch interview with Mathur H., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

206 See, for example, UNAIDS, “UNAIDS Technical Update: AIDS and men who have sex with men,” May 2000, p. 2.

207 See, for example, UNAIDS , “UNAIDS Technical Update: AIDS and men who have sex with men,” May 2000, p. 5. The document does not contemplate abuses of the severity reported here, but it does explain briefly the way that “stigmatization and criminalization” can hinder HIV prevention efforts.

208 Human Rights Watch interview with Ali L., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

209 Ibid.

210 Ibid.

211 Human Rights Watch interview with Monir Chowdhury, Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

212 Human Rights Watch interview with Suliman M., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

213 Ibid.

214 Human Rights Watch interview with Kajal J., Dhaka, December 11, 2002.

215 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad H., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002. Eighth standard in Bangladesh is the eighth year of school not including kindergarten.

216 Human Rights Watch interview with Rafiq F., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

217 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad H., Rajshahi, December 19, 2002.

218 Ibid.

219 Bangladesh Penal Code, 1898, Section 377.

220 See, for example, T.K. Rajalakshmi, “Targeting NGOs,” Frontline, vol. 18, no. 18, September 2001.

221See, for example, “High Court seeks Government reply for making gay relations legal,” The Week, December 8, 2001 [online], (retrieved March 2, 2003).

222 Institutional Development of Human Rights in Bangladesh (IDHRB), “Mapping Exercise on HIV/AIDS- Law, Ethics, and Human Rights” (Dhaka: Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, 2002), p. 33.

223 Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, for example, states in part: “the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any grounds such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” ICCPR (ratified by Bangladesh, 2000). The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the body charged with monitoring compliance with the ICCPR, determined in a 1994 case, Toonen v. Australia, that a law in Australia banning sexual contact between consenting adult men was a violation of Australia’s obligations as a party to the ICCPR. This decision concluded that the discrimination provision of the ICCPR should be understood to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. See Toonen vs. Australia, U.N. Human Rights Committee, CCPR/C/50/D/488/1992, April 4, 1994. For a thorough discussion of the protections in international human rights law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, see Human Rights Watch, Hatred in the Hallways: Violence and Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students in U.S. Schools (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2001), ch. XI.

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August 2003