Bangladesh’s first comic strip featuring a young lesbian discovering her sexuality has been launched in the capital to raise awareness of the plight of homosexuals in the conservative Muslim-majority nation.
Boys of Bangladesh, the country’s largest gay rights group, organised the launch on Saturday night of Dhee, the Bengali word for intellect or wisdom.
“By creating Dhee, we want to shape perception of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, because we should be free to choose whom to love,” Mehnaz Khan, one of the four content developers of the comic, said.
“It’s about carrying the message to all.”
Gays and lesbians suffer discrimination in Bangladesh, where homosexuality is a crime punishable by a maximum life term, although prosecutions are rare.
The comic, to be handed out at gay rights seminars and other events, tells the story of Dhee, a girl who is attracted to other girls and falls in love.
Facing intense pressure to conform, Dhee mulls her enormous challenges and asks readers whether she should consider suicide, marry a man to please her family, flee the country, or stay and follow her heart.
Several hundred people attended the launch at the British Council in Dhaka.
“We hope to take such events outdoors next time as we don’t want to live our lives indoors and in secret,” prominent social activist Khushi Kabir said.
Last year, Bangladesh saw the launch of the first magazine for homosexuals with little opposition.