Bangladesh students protest teacher’s sacking for anti-trans speech

Bangladesh students protest teacher’s sacking for anti-trans speech
Bangladesh students protest teacher’s sacking for anti-trans speech

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Students of BRAC University shout slogans as they stage a protest against LGBTQ community in Dhaka on January 23, 2024. Hundreds of students from a top Bangladesh university demanded the reinstatement on January 23 of a lecturer sacked for publicly condemning the inclusion of transgender content in the national school curriculum. — AFP pic

DHAKA, Jan 23 — Hundreds of students from a top Bangladesh university demanded the reinstatement Tuesday of a lecturer sacked for publicly condemning the inclusion of transgender content in the national school curriculum.

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

A curriculum overhaul last year included the recognition of transgender women in school textbooks, prompting a backlash from Islamists in the Muslim-majority nation.

Lecturer Asif Mahtab Utsha was fired from Brac University after tearing pages from one such book during a speech condemning the content last week.

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Up to 300 people picketed the university, one of the capital Dhaka’s leading education institutions, for several hours today.

“If the university authorities fired our teacher for his recent remarks on the LGBTQ issue, then they must reinstate him,” one protester said.

Others shouted slogans condemning transgender recognition and carried placards with messages including “Say No To Rainbow Terrorism”.

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The university said in a statement that it was “committed to promoting tolerance and inclusivity.”

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 faces widespread discrimination in Bangladesh.

A colonial-era law is still in place that punishes gay sex by prison terms, though enforcement is rare. — AFP

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