Thousands Staged Rally In Bangladesh To Protest Transgender Recognition

Himalaya Times
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Thousands gathered in the Bangladeshi capital at an Islamist rally staged after Friday prayers in the latest protest demanding the removal of recognition for transgender people in school textbooks.

Transgender women have been the beneficiaries of growing legal recognition in Bangladesh, where they are officially recognised as a third gender.

A curriculum overhaul last year included the recognition of transgender women in school textbooks.

One social sciences book narrates the story of a boy named Sharif who transitions, takes the woman's name Sharifa and goes to live with other transgender people.

Local police officer Zakir Hossain said up to 5,000 people joined the rally against the changes outside the national mosque in central Dhaka, which had been organised by one of Bangladesh's largest Islamist parties.

"We won't let Sharif become Sharifa," protesters chanted, who also shouted slogans demanding Bangladesh's sizeable transgender community leave the Muslim-majority country.

Several hundred students at one of Dhaka's leading universities had this week protested the sacking of lecturer Asif Mahtab Utsha for condemning the inclusion of transgender content in the curriculum.

Hijras, as transgender women are known across South Asia, have become increasingly visible in Bangladeshi society with the extension of legal recognition.

Several have entered Bangladeshi politics, and in 2021 a transgender woman became mayor of a rural town in a first for the country.

But the LGBTQ community still faces widespread discrimination in Bangladesh. A colonial-era law remains in place to punish gay sex with prison terms, though enforcement is rare.

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