UNFPA for gay rights in Bangladesh
Sheikh Shahariar Zaman

NGOs are “pressuring” Bangladesh to accept some thorny and sensitive issues, including gay rights

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    Photo- BIG STOCK

The UN Population Fund and some NGOs are “pressuring” Bangladesh to accept some thorny and sensitive issues, including adopting a sexuality education and ensuring gay rights.

“We told them that we cannot accept the issues as they are against our social norms,” Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the UN AK Abdul Momen told the Dhaka Tribune Wednesday.

He said the UNFPA had tried to sell the idea of rights of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), but Bangladesh had opposed it as it also had not supported extramarital sexual rights.

On adopting a comprehensive sexuality education, he said it was not possible in Bangladesh.

“If Bangladesh adopts it, we have to teach our 10 to 12-year-old school-going children about how to have sex through animation,” he said, adding that the international connotation of comprehensive sexuality education was completely different.

These issues, which are sensitive in Bangladesh’s context, are being discussed at the five-day long Sixth Asian and Pacific Population Conference (APPC) in Bangkok and Bangladesh is taking part in the conference without proper preparation. The event began on September 16 and will conclude today.

On Wednesday, Health Secretary MM Niazuddin told the Dhaka Tribune that no inter-ministerial meeting had been held prior to the conference.

Niazuddin was supposed to lead the Senior Officials’ Meeting in the conference on September 16-18 but he left Bangkok on September 17. He had, however, made a statement on Bangladesh’s position the previous day.

The UNFPA is bearing the expenses of the seven-member Bangladesh delegation.

When asked about his statement, he said: “The UNFPA prepared a statement for me and when I arrived there [Bangkok], I found that the [Bangladesh] ambassador also prepared one. The ambassador’s speech was too long. I revised it and place it.”

About the adolescent reproductive health, he said it was included in the text book. “It is very clear that we should advise adolescent boys and girls and we have to educate them.”

Asked about the LGBT issue, he admitted that he had no idea how the negotiation had been going on in Bangkok.

A note prepared by the UNFPA for the Bangladesh delegation suggested that they “refrain from making comments on the language [of the draft of the declaration] related to women’s equal rights to inherited custom as it is a sensitive area.”

On the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity, the UNFPA proposed that the delegation should “refrain from voting against any motions in favour of services for LGBT.”

About the comprehensive sexuality education, it said: “The delegation should strongly support realisation of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR), including access to SRH [sexual and reproductive health] information, services and sexuality education.” Representatives from 40 countries are attending the conference.

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