Using queer cartoons to promote LGBT+ rights in Bangladesh

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01/17/2019

In April 2016, the police found the bodies of Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Mahbub, two prominent LGBT+ rights activists, in an apartment in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital. This week, police arrested one of the main suspects in the murder, stating that the killers had plotted the attack over the past six months. Mannan and Mahbub’s murders form part of a string of similar attacks on progressive bloggers and political commentators and sent shivers through lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities in Bangladesh – leading dozens of activists to flee the country.  Amid such threats and attacks, queer activists in Bangladesh have developed creative strategies to raise awareness, educate the public and carve out safe spaces for expressions of diversity. Visual arts have been an effective tactic. In 2015, Boys of Bangladesh began a cartoon series called Dhee, the name of the main lesbian character. Activists used the cartoon series in private events across the countries to teach about diversity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and acceptance.

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