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Hacked to death for defending LGBTIQ rights


Xulhaz Mannan and a colleague were in his apartment when men posing as couriers burst in wielding machetes. Both men were hacked to death in front of Xulhaz’s 75-year-old mother.

Xulhaz was a founder of Bangladesh’s only magazine dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) issues, a daring venture in a country where same-sex relations are illegal. His attackers are believed to belong to Ansar al-Islam, the same extremist group responsible for a spate of similar assaults on bloggers promoting atheism, feminism, science and other secular issues.

Over a year since the April 2016 attack, and despite evidence including eye witness testimony and CCTV footage, no one has been charged for the murders. On top of this slow police response, the government has shifted blame onto the victims. Shortly after Xulhaz’s murder, a government minister stated that movements promoting “unnatural sex” are not allowed in Bangladeshi society.

This reluctance or unwillingness to find and charge Xulhaz’s killers sends a devastating message to LGBTIQ activists and others who challenge the status quo with their work. As Xulhaz’s brother says, the police’s inaction shows that “the government is least bothered... and believes that ‘this’ issue [same-sex relations] has died with Xulhaz”.

Tell Bangladesh to bring Xulhaz’s killers to justice.

Home Minister
Ministry of Home Affairs