Bangladeshi Gay Magazine Roopbaan: The Inside Story

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The only gay magazine of Bangladesh Roopbaan was first launched on January 19, 2015. Although, it had been first published on January, 2014.   And Roopbaan editor Xulhaz Mannan along with one other hacked to death inside his flat at Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh on Monday after more than two years of Roopban publishing.

The Bangladeshi gay community had launched this magazine in a bid to promote greater acceptance of homosexuals who face widespread discrimination in the Muslim-majority country. Although, Bangladeshi law does not permit homosexuality. It is a punishable offence in Bangladesh.
Roopbaan, the 56-page glossy magazine, was officially launched at an invitation-only event that included leading members of the gay community and human rights activists.

At the launching ceremony gay leaders said,“It is a giant leap forward for the country’s LGBT people,”
They  hoped the magazine’s stories about issues impacting gay people would increase understanding.

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They also added,“The main reason for this publication is to promote love,” he continued, “promoting love and promoting the right to love. The audience for love is huge and that’s who this is for.”

British High Commissioner Robert Gibson and Barrister Sara Hossain were among the guests present at the invitation-only launch event.

Speaking at the programme, a representative of a support group for gays and lesbians spoke of the major advancements around the world in this field.

He also mentioned some of the recent changes such as the reversal of the decriminalisation of “unnatural sex” in India.

“The problem in our country is many are taking the issue politically. But this is about personal freedom. We need to take careful steps, and we don’t want our development to be hindered by a wrong step,” he said.

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As the editor spoke to this correspondent, many came up to thank him for such an initiative in a country where the traditionally conservative and majority Muslim population shuns such practices or movements.

The magazine, a quarterly, was not be available on street newsstands, for fear of inflaming tensions and sparking a backlash against the gay community. It was sold on demand or phone order.
But Roopbaan — the name of a Bengali fairytale of a beautiful young girl married to a boy — will be available through phone orders, he added.

Roopbaan was being published in Bangla, taking submissions from volunteer contributors. It includes articles, photography and personal accounts of the volunteers.

However, the launch saw a marked lack of female representatives. Some of the guests noticed this as well, such as Barrister Hossain, and pointed out that there had historically been a low female turnout at events regarding sexuality and sexual identity.

But Roopbaan — the name of a Bengali fairytale of a beautiful young girl married to a boy.

Author: Harun Ur Rashid

 

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