Research highlights suppression of civil society and human rights violations of LGBT+ people in Bangladesh

New research by WISERD Co-Director, Professor Paul Chaney, Dr Sarbeswar Sahoo (Indian Institure of Technology, Delhi) and Dr Seuty Sabur (BRAC University, Dhaka) analyses civil society organisations’ perspectives on the contemporary situation facing LGBT+ people in Bangladesh.

Until now largely overlooked in academic work, it is an issue needing attention because of the country’s poor and deteriorating equality and human rights record – as graphically illustrated by the high profile murder in 2016 of the editor of the country’s only LGBT+ magazine. This new study draws on the views of over a hundred civil society organisations. It reveals how a series of key pathologies – including violence, intimidation and discrimination – affect the lives of LGBT+ people.

The wider significance of this research lies in highlighting that, whilst not a replacement for justiciable rights, the discursive processes offered by the United Nations’ human rights reviews are of key significance in seeking to advance LGBT+ rights in countries like Bangladesh where oppression combines with religious extremism and political elites’ refusal to embrace equality in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation. The study also provides further evidence of state suppression of civil society, undermining its independence and ability to hold government to account under new legislation passed under the pretext of protecting ‘national security’. This does not bode well for defenders of rights and democracy in today’s Bangladesh.

This research was undertaken as part of: ‘Trust, human rights and civil society within Mixed Economies of Welfare’, a core project in WISERD’s Civil Society Research Programme.









Chaney, P., Sahoo, S. and Sabur, S. (2020 forthcoming) Civil Society Organisations and LGBT+ Rights in Bangladesh: A Critical Analysis, Journal of South Asian Development, SAGE