Gay rights activists have criticised the Bangladeshi government after it rejected recommendations to remove a clause in its penal code which criminalises gay relationships.
The reaction followed a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on Friday, where Bangladesh accepted 164 of a total 196 recommendations made by the body.
Among the measures rejected was a recommendation to abolish Section 377 of the national penal code which criminalises consensual same-sex relationships.
According to a UN summary of the UPR meeting, Abdul Hannan, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN Office at Geneva, told the council that his country could not accept recommendations that conflicted with “constitutional and legal provisions” or “socio-cultural values of the country”.
Tanvir Alim, representing the gay rights organisation Boys of Bangladesh, said: “We regret that the government has rejected [the] recommendation to abolish Section 377 which criminalises consensual same-sex relationships.”
He added: “The government already has an extensive HIV/AIDS program including men who have sex with men. This rejection indicates that it’s just to avoid acknowledging human rights violations of sexual and gender minorities.”
Section 377 is a relic of British imperialism in the national penal code of many former colonies, although neighbouring countries India and Nepal have both repealed the clause.