In a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) session last Friday Bangladesh accepted 164 of the Council’s 196 recommendations but rejected a call to remove Section 377 of the country’s penal code, criminalising consensual same-sex relationships.
The recommendations came as part of the UNHCR’s Universal Periodic Review, where the Council provides feedback on human rights issues for all 193 member states.
UN Permanent Representative of Bangladesh Abdul Hannan said the recommendation was rejected because it conflicted with Bangladeshi values.
“Bangladesh considers that the law of the land should be in conformity with the prevalent socio-cultural norms and values of the country,” Hannan told the review.
“Activities subject to the concerned article are not generally accepted norm in the country.”
In a joint statement local gay rights organisation Boys of Bangladesh and the International Lesbian and Gay Association said the rejection contradicted the country’s HIV/AIDS program, which targets men who have sex with men.
“Hence, this rejection indicates that it’s just to avoid acknowledging human rights violations of sexual and gender minorities,” the statement read.