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As Bangladesh braces for the impact of COVID-19, with much of the country in lockdown, people with means have stocked food and hunkered down at home. But in a country where one in five people lives below the poverty line, for…
A Hijra in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
News
In a moment when some countries have stepped back on LGBT rights, a January 9th decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has opened a window of opportunity for Latin America to lead the way.   In a landmark…
People celebrate after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights called on Costa Rica and Latin America to recognize equal marriage, in San Jose, Costa Rica, January 9, 2018. The sign reads: "The court said yes".
News

Transgender Men Face Threats and Widespread Discrimination

In October 2017 Human Rights Watch interviewed six transgender men living in different parts of Bangladesh. All of them spoke of bullying at school, barriers to employment, difficulty accessing health care, as well as harassment and verbal abuse in both…
Marchers at an LGBT rights rally in Dhaka during Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New  Year) in 2015.
Report
Summary My brother asked, “Can I have your identity? What is your force? Are you RAB, CID, DB?” They did not identify themselves. He asked several times. They did not wear any uniform and they had no legal arrest warrant. Nothing. They just said, “…
News

Security Forces Offer Threats, Not Protection

Bangladesh’s notorious Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raided a gathering in Dhaka on May 19, arrested 28 men, paraded them in front of the media while saying they were gay, and accused them of drug possession. Apparently tipped off by a…
Members of the the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Dhaka, Bangladesh, December 4, 2012.
News

Court Ruling Opens the Way to Marriage Equality

Taiwan’s constitutional court this week paved the way for marriage equality in the country by striking down the legal definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman.” The landmark decision declared this limited…
Supporters hug each other during a rally after Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, in Taipei, Taiwan May 24, 2017.
News

Transgender Woman Helps People ‘Searching for Answers’

I was in Colombia last week to speak at an event about my work for Human Rights Watch with a focus on homophobic and transphobic bullying. I was to be interviewed by Brigitte Baptiste, who I had never met. When I took my seat in front of hundreds of…
Brigitte Baptiste (L) and Human Rights Watch LGBT Advocacy Director Boris Dittrich, Colombia, February 2017.
News

For all his promises — and a Nobel Peace Prize — the Obama presidency delivered more hope than change

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, many fear a new hostility to human rights on the part of the United States. From his divisive rhetoric about minorities to his embrace of autocrats abroad, there is plenty to worry about.  Trump…
U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016.
News

Lack of Rights Protections for Hijras Undermines Government Directive

(Dhaka, December 23, 2016) – Bangladesh’s steps in recent years to recognize hijras as a third legal gender are leading to further abuses due to widespread prejudice and lack of clear rights-based procedures, Human Rights Watch said in a report released…
A Hijra in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Report
Summary In recent years the government of Bangladesh has taken important steps toward acknowledging and protecting hijras, but the implementation of promising decrees and programs has exposed hijras to serious abuses. On…
Report
Summary On the morning of February 28, 2013, the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party called a strike to protest the death penalty handed down against its leader, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, who had been convicted by Bangladesh’s International Crimes…
News

Consideration of Bangladesh’s Periodic Report, 65th Session

Human Rights Watch welcomes the opportunity to provide input drawn from our research on Bangladesh’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). A.   Marriage Rights (Article 16 and…
News

Carry Out Proper Investigations to Identify and Prosecute ‘Machete Attacks’

(New York) – The Bangladeshi authorities should investigate attacks on secular writers, gay rights activists, and religious minorities, and identify and prosecute the perpetrators, but should immediately stop arbitrarily arresting people without proper…
Police stand guard during a rally by activists demanding capital punishment for a group of bloggers in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 12, 2013.
News

Bangladesh's beleagured LGBT community deserves the government's respect, but more importantly, the community deserves protection from fatal attacks by extremists, says this researcher at Human Rights Watch.

On April 14 I saw a news alert about police arresting four LGBT people in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s bustling capital city. I emailed Xulhaz Mannan, a contact at the organization mentioned in the news piece, to ask what support they needed. He wrote back two…
News

Landmark Ruling Ends Legal Uncertainty, Strengthens LGBT Rights

(New York) – The Colombian Constitutional Court ended years of uncertainty for same-sex couples and bolstered the rights of LGBT people when it upheld the validity of same-sex marriage on April 28, 2016, Human Rights Watch said today…
Protesters wave rainbow flags and advocate for LGBT rights outside of the Congress building in Bogotá.
News

Protect Activists From Attack

(New York) – The Bangladeshi authorities should immediately investigate the killings of two lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights activists, Human Rights Watch said today. Police found Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Mahbub hacked to death…
News

Condemns Violence, Bias Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

(Geneva) – The UN Human Rights Council resolution passed on September 26, 2014, to combat violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a critically important achievement for upholding the principles of the Universal…
News

States Condemn Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, taking a crucial step to end the silence around violence against…